Merck & Co. Inc.
said it expects the company’s experimental oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 could get emergency authorization by the end of the year. “We expect to be able to see clinical data here in the back half of the year and still have the potential for an interim analysis and potential for emergency use authorization before year end,” Merck CEO Robert Davis told investors at the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference on Monday. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics Inc. have been testing the investigational therapy, molnupiravir, in a Phase 3 clinical trial. There are few authorized or approved new COVID-19 treatments beyond the monoclonal antibodies developed by Eli Lilly & Co.
and Vir Biotechnology Inc.
and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
and Gilead Sciences Inc.’s
Veklury. The medical community has called for easy-to-take medications that can treat the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. The U.S. has already purchased 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir, dependent on authorization from regulators. Merck’s stock is down 7.0% for the year, while the broader S&P 500
is up 18.9%.