Merck corporate headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J. Merck & Co. is shown on May 1, 2018. Merck Canada announced it plans to manufacture it’s oral antiviral COVID-19 drug in Canada, making the country a global hub for the production of the potentially game-changing treatment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Seth Wenig

Merck corporate headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J. Merck & Co. is shown on May 1, 2018. Merck Canada announced it plans to manufacture it’s oral antiviral COVID-19 drug in Canada, making the country a global hub for the production of the potentially game-changing treatment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Seth Wenig

Canada to manufacture Merck COVID-19 antivirals if regulator approves

Merck’s clinical trial showed a 50 per cent reduced risk of hospitalization or death

Merck Canada announced it plans to manufacture its oral antiviral COVID-19 drug in Canada, making the country a global hub for the production of the potentially game-changing treatment.

The drug company has invested $19 million to scale up production of its antiviral drug, molnupiravir, at Thermo Fisher Scientific’s facility in Whitby, Ont.

The drug — one of the first treatments for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients — is currently pending Health Canada approval.

The antiviral works by blocking the enzyme essential for viral replication.

Merck’s clinical trial showed a 50 per cent reduced risk of hospitalization or death compared to placebo patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.

Last week Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced Canada had signed a deal to purchase 500,000 courses of the oral antiviral drug, with the option to purchase another 500,000 if Health Canada gives the green light.

READ MORE: Canada buying up to 1.5 million courses of oral antiviral drugs to fight COVID-19

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


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