Merck And RidgebackBio To Reap Huge Profits On New Covid Pill Paid For By US Taxpayers?


According to a recent report in The Intercept, Merck’s total costs to produce a five-day course of molnupiravir – the new drug to be approved for early treatment of Covid-19 – is $17.74. However, they have charged the U.S. government $712 for that treatment. That’s a forty percent markup.

RidgebackBio has put out a press release to state that they received no government funding to help them manufacture the drug for use against Covid-19, However, a number of public advocate groups have noted that they, along with Merck, are benefiting from all the government funding that went into the drug’s initial development. Some have even suggested that public advocacy groups might fight against the high pricing of the drug, using the Bayh-Doyle Act. As noted by The Intercept, “Bayh-Dole, passed in 1980, regulates the transfer of federally funded inventions into commercial property and allows the government to “march in” and suspend the use of patents that were developed with government funding if it determines that the products are excessively priced.”

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

The Intercept’s full report can be found here.