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Merck to produce its anti-COVID pill in Canada

The pharmaceutical company Merck, known outside North America as MSD, announced that it will produce the pill molnupiravir, an oral treatment against COVID-19, in Canada.

Merck said in a statement that it reached an agreement with the Canadian company Thermo Fisher Scientific to manufacture molnupiravir – which has not yet been approved for use in any country in the world – at a production center in the Canadian town of Whitby.

The pills produced at Whitby will be destined for Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), Asia and Latin America, when their use is approved by national authorities.

Merck He said the pill, which is being developed in conjunction with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, will only be produced in three facilities around the world.

On December 3, Canada reported that it had reached an agreement with Merck to purchase 500,000 molnupiravir treatments in 2022 with the option to purchase another 500,000.

Doug Ford, Prime Minister of the Canadian province of Ontario, where the Whitby plant is located, stated that the pact ensures that Canada has access to a drug that may be key to fighting COVID-19.

The Canadian government was criticized early in the pandemic for a lack of domestic vaccine production, which posed serious supply problems for injectables from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca in the first months of the immunization campaign.

In this sense, the Minister of Innovation of Canada, Francois-Philippe Champagne, said that the agreement between Merck and Thermo Fisher Scientific “secure the domestic drug supply chain“And will ensure that Canada”be better prepared for future health emergencies. “

Last week, Merck explained that its pill reduces the risk of death and hospitalization by 30%, a percentage lower than the 50% initially announced, but experts from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an agency The benchmark regulator for the rest of America, concluded last Tuesday that the results for now are positive and its emergency use should be authorized.

In addition, that same day the company said that it should in principle be equally effective against any new variant of the virus.

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