Merck inks $356M deal with U.S. for investigational COVID-19 therapy

Dec. 23, 2020

Merck (MSD) announced it signed a $356 million deal with the U.S. government to develop, manufacture, and distribute an experimental COVID-19 therapy as part of Operation Warp Speed.

The deal gives the government access to up to 100,000 doses of the recombinant fusion protein, MK-7110, through June, pending approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. FDA. Merck gained access to the investigational drug through its $425 million acquisition of the privately held OncoImmune in late November.

Back in September, Maryland-based OncoImmune said early results from an ongoing phase 3 study for its lead therapeutic candidate, then called CD24Fc, showed a 60% higher probability of improvement for patients suffering severe or critical COVID-19 when compared to placebo. Prior to the Phase 3 clinical trial for COVID-19 patients, CD24Fc has been studied for safety in healthy volunteers and in phase 2 clinical trials for the prevention of graft versus host disease following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in patients with leukemia.

Merck said it is investing to expand its manufacturing capacity to increase supply of MK-7110.

Read the press release