Indonesia is “finalizing” an agreement with Merck & Co to procure its experimental antiviral pills, named molnupiravir, to treat illnesses linked to COVID-19, its health minister said on Monday. Https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/mercks-covid-19-pill-cuts-risk-death-hospitalization-by-50-study-2021-10-01 results of a large clinical trial this month showed that the pill, made with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, reduced hospitalizations and deaths by 50%. Merck applied for emergency use authorization in the United States earlier this month.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a press conference that the deal was being finalized so that the first shipment of molnupiravir could arrive at the end of the year after a visit to the company in the United States “so that we have enough stock to withstand a potential next wave,” he said, adding that Indonesia and Merck were in talks to build a production facility in Indonesia to produce raw materials.
Budi did not say how many pills are purchased. Merck did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Merck has signed supply agreements for the drug with neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as with Great Britain.
Indonesia was the epicenter of COVID-19 in Asia in July, fueled largely by the virulent delta variant, although cases and deaths have fallen significantly recently. The government said on Monday it anticipated a potential spike in infection caused by the upcoming Christmas holidays.
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