India’s Everest Organics Ltd said on Tuesday started making the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for a generic version of Merck & Co’s experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir for treatment of mild to moderate coronavirus patients.
After the news came in the shares of Everest Organics jumped as much as 11.6% and were last up at 9.9% at 330 rupees in a weak Mumbai market.
As an API maker for Merck’s experimental oral drug, the Indian bulk drugs producer joins Divi’s Laboratories Ltd.
With an aim to turn the country into a manufacturing center for the drug, Merck has distinctly entered into voluntary licensing agreements with at least eight Indian generic drugmakers for molnupiravir.
In a statement, the Chief Executive Officer Srikakarlapudi Sirisha said, “After the successful development and commercialisation of various COVID-19 drugs such as Oseltamivir, Remdesivir… Everest Organics is on its path of expansion of this portfolio.”
Merck said on Monday it had sought U.S. emergency use approval for the drug, putting molnupiravir on course to become the first oral antiviral drug for coronavirus. On the data released earlier this month by Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics the U.S authorization application was founded.
The data showed molnupiravir nearly halved the risk of hospitalisation or death in at-risk non-hospitalised patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.