Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have received an order from the UK Government to supply an additional 1.75 million patient courses of investigational Covid-19 oral antiviral drug molnupiravir (MK-4482).
Molnupiravir is an orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analogue that blocks the SARS-CoV-2 replication. It is planned to be sold under the trademark Lagevrio in the UK.
Previously, the UK Government placed an order for 480,000 courses of molnupiravir. The new procurement deal brings the total number of ordered courses to 2.23 million.
Merck said that it has signed advance purchase and supply agreements for the drug with more than 30 countries including 21 deals with European nations.
The company aims to produce 10 million courses of molnupiravir by the end of this year and at least 20 million courses next year.
In the UK, the drug received conditional marketing authorisation last month to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults with at least one risk factor for disease progression.
It is already available in the UK and is being used to treat patients amid the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.
Merck has also entered into an agreement with the US Government to supply around 3.1 million molnupiravir courses after the drug receives emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Recently, Merck entered into an agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific to produce molnupiravir.