Merck Seeks To Advance Treatment For COVID-19 With Large Trials

By Manas Mishra and Michael Erman

Jul 31 (Reuters) – Merck & Co said on Friday it plans to advance antiviral treatment for COVID-19 through large studies in the coming weeks, after forecasting less-than-expected impact on sales and earnings for the year from the measures. taken to stop the coronavirus.

The US drug maker said two trials of the oral antiviral it is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics would start in September. Merck anticipated that it can manufacture “many millions of doses” of the drug before the end of the year.

The intravenous antiviral remdesivir from Gilead Sciences Inc is being widely used to treat hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Merck also expects its two experimental coronavirus vaccines to begin human trials later this year, lagging behind some rivals who have begun studies in late stages.

The vaccine purchased through the purchase of Themis Bioscience should begin clinical trials in the current quarter, while another developed with the nonprofit IAVI should begin testing by the end of the year.

Effective treatments and vaccines are considered essential to stem a pandemic that has killed more than 674,000 people worldwide and has hit world economies hard.

Merck said he hopes his experimental coronavirus vaccines can be effective with a single dose.

“When treating a globally aggressive and widespread disease like COVID-19, we believe it is advisable to lower the barrier to vaccination as much as possible, for example by launching a vaccine that is effective with a single dose,” said the head of research. Merck’s Roger Perlmutter in a conference call. (Report by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Michael Erman in Maplewood, New Jersey. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)