According to The Western Journal, Molnupiravir is the latest drug to be making progress in the fight against COVID-19, but the price may prevent Americans from being able to afford the medication.
During a recent study involving 775 high-risk patients, those being treated with Molnupiravir were 50 percent less likely to require hospitalization.
About fourteen percent of the participants in the study that were consuming a placebo needed to be hospitalized for COVID-19, while only seven percent of the patients taking the antiviral drug, Molnupiravir, were admitted to the hospital for treatment.
Eight participants in the study that were taking the placebo died, however, all of the participants taking Molnupiravir survived.
Merk is the pharmaceutical company that is distributing Molnupiravir after purchasing the license from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The original use for Molnupiravir was to fight Venezuelan equine encephalitis, a viral infection in horses that is spread by mosquitos and usually results in death. The newly designed pill-form reportedly makes distribution easier.
Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital in London released a report predicting that a standard five day treatment costs $17.74 to be manufactured.
The U.S. government’s price, after a 4,000 percent increase will reportedly be $712 for the five day treatment.
Merk has licensed companies in other countries to manufacture generic forms of the drug. In countries like India, the price for the five day treatment will reportedly be $12.
In a statement released by the pharmaceutical company, they wrote; “Merck has committed to providing timely access to molnupiravir globally, if it is authorized or approved, and plans to implement a tiered pricing approach based on World Bank country income criteria to reflect countries’ relative ability to finance their health response to the pandemic.”
Taxpayers reportedly fronted $29 million in the development of Molnupiravir and Merk is now being criticized for increasing the price for the same taxpayers that made the medication possible.
Ridgeback Biotherapeutics co-founder Wendy Holman claimed recently during an interview on CNBS that the company “never got government funding” for the development of Molnupiravir.
A senior researcher at Knowledge Ecology International, Luis Gil Abinader contested that; “The public funded this drug, and therefore the public has some rights, including the rights you have it available under reasonable terms.”
Adding; “What they want to do, apparently, is to shape the narrative about who paid for the development of this drug in order to avoid demands from the public to make it available at reasonable prices.”
The pricing experts at Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital have claimed that Molnupiravir will not have an impact on the pandemic if Merk follows through with their pricing strategy.
Dr. Dzintars Gotham, a physician at King’s College Hospital said; “Offering someone a $700 treatment when they don’t yet feel that ill is going to mean that a lot of people are not going to take it.”
The authors of the study stated that they routinely overestimate the price, but $712 is still an astronomical increase from any estimate near the $2 margin of error.
The Bayh-Dole Act is a law passed in 1980 that allows the government to intervene if companies overprice medications that were developed with tax money. Critics of Merk’s pricing tactics have suggested using this law to suspend their patent if they do not make the medication more affordable for Americans.