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Merck Canada will manufacture an COVID-19 antiviral meds for global distribution

Merck Canada will produce COVID-19, an antiviral medication

Key takeaways:

  • Merck Canada announced on Monday that it will collaborate with Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture COVID-19, an antiviral drug for global distribution, in Canada.
  • The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are still waiting for final approval for emergency usage.

Merck Canada announced on Monday that it would work with Thermo Fisher Scientific to produce the COVID-19 antiviral medicine in Canada for global distribution, a move Ottawa hopes will help the country establish itself as a biomanufacturing hub strengthen its supply chain in the event of future public health crises.

Thermo Fisher will manufacture doses of molnupiravir, an investigational medicine developed in conjunction with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, for distribution in Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, pending regulatory approval in those territories. Health Canada has yet to approve the medicine.

During a news conference, Marwan Akar, Merck Canada’s new president, said that the plant was chosen because of its capacity, capability, and quickness in producing the medicine.

The Whitby facility is one of only three in the world that will manufacture this tablet, which will be the first COVID-19 medication treatment that patients can take at home.

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During the press briefing, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne said, “We are recognizing a very important milestone in strengthening Canada’s biomanufacturing capability.”

“We’ll be manufacturing COVID medications for Canadians and the rest of the world,” adds the CEO, “so this is a significant step forward in how we plan to revitalize our biomanufacturing sector in Canada.”

Canada was reprimanded earlier in the outbreak for its inability to create COVID-19 vaccines in-house, leaving Ottawa reliant on US and European companies to manufacture and supply dosages. 

To ensure that Canadians had access to vaccines as soon as they became available, the federal government ordered hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine candidates from more than a half-dozen companies.

Minister Champagne stated that the recent statement is part of the government’s efforts to ensure that Canada is better prepared and that “we restructure the supply chain so that whatever comes next, we are ready.”

As per Victor Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, the new manufacturing arrangement will also aid Ontario’s economic recovery with a $19 million capital investment supporting more than 50 high-paying employment in the region.

COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir to be manufactured in Canada
COVID-19 antiviral drug molnupiravir to be manufactured in Canada. Image from CTV News

ANTIVIRAL PRODUCTS ARE LESS EFFECTIVE THAN FIRST EXPECTED

The federal government agreed to buy 500,000 molnupiravir pills from Merck last week, with an option to buy another half-million awaiting approval. The drug’s request for approval was submitted in August.

Non-hospitalized adult cases with mild or moderate infection, the business claims that their oral pill lowered the chance of hospitalization or mortality by roughly 30%. This was far lower than the first data’s estimate of 50%.

A panel of expert advisers to the US Food and Medicine Administration (FDA) recommended the drug be approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in a close vote last week. 

Still, it highlighted worries about the drug’s ability to cause the virus to evolve and its potential to cause birth abnormalities. According to studies, at very high dosages, the medication produced toxicity and birth abnormalities in rats.

Merck has yet to do a detailed study on the medication’s efficacy against the Omicron version. Still, based on its efficacy against other variants, the company appears confident that it should have some potency. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are still waiting for final approval for emergency usage.

According to scientists after personal protective equipment, diagnostics, and vaccines, antiviral medicine therapies are considered another instrument in the fight against COVID-19.

Source: CTV News

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