Merck gives taxpayers the middle finger

SUMMARY: Via Axios – The antiviral pill that showed promising results against severe COVID-19 was initially developed at Emory University with $35 million of taxpayer grants. And while it costs $17.74 to produce, according to a report issued last week by drug pricing experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital in London. Merck charges the U.S. government $712 for the same amount of medicine or 40 times the price.

Molnupiravir is expected to be more widely used and, hopefully, will cut the death rate. In the first 29 days of the trial, no deaths were reported among the 385 patients who received the drug, while eight of the people who received a placebo died, according to the statement put out by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the two companies that are jointly launching it.

Like the vast majority of medicines on the market, molnupiravir — which was originally investigated as a possible treatment for Venezuelan equine encephalitis — was developed using government funds. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a division of the Department of Defense, provided more than $10 million of funding in 2013 and 2015 to Emory University, as research done by the nonprofit Knowledge Ecology International has revealed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, also provided Emory with more than $19 million in additional grants.

The Intercept

Merck is not alone in hosing taxpayers. Remdesivir was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19. Gilead Sciences, Inc. originally developed it to treat other viral diseases.

As of December 2020, federal funding for preclinical studies and clinical trials involving remdesivir totaled about $162 million, as follows:

$0.7 million for CDC’s preclinical research;

$39.7 million for DOD’s preclinical research;

$11.9 million for the preclinical study conducted by NIH and NIH-funded universities; and

$109.2 million for NIH-funded clinical trials.

To quote a Senator from the past, “have you no shame?”. The pharma industry is doing its best to prove to the American people that they are just another big business that is only concerned about profits.