Bioworld Insider

Merck’s new COVID-19 pill will save lives, but at what price?

About episode

A new pill, molnupiravir, from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and partner Merck & Co. Inc., could cut hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in half. The companies are already seeking emergency use authorization in the U.S. and global governments are pledging to buy big lots of the medicine, pending regulatory approvals.

But some people are already crying foul over the proposed price, $712 for a treatment, which includes twice daily doses for five days – because the U.S. government helped pay for the research. Molnupiravir was invented at Emory University and had partial funding and support from the U.S. government.

Joseph Allen, executive director of the Bayh-Dole Coalition, joined the BioWorld Insider Podcast this week to explain how this scientific discovery may have never had a chance to move out of the university onto pharmacy shelves without the government’s support of innovation. The cost of health care, including drugs, is an entirely separate topic and should be treated as such, he said.

About BioWorld Insider

The BioWorld Insider Podcasts provides timely and focused one-on-one interviews with the same key sources typically interviewed for articles such as company founders, executives, top researchers and regulators. Topics are prioritized based on the same criteria we use when selecting news to feature in BioWorld, which for more than 30 years reports the breaking news — and provides key perspective — on hundreds of therapeutics and devices in development, the companies behind those candidates, the business development transactions that evolve the markets, and the regulatory hurdles that both challenge and guard the processes.