Merck drops potential COVID-19 drug

April 15, 2021

In the latest blow to Merck’s efforts to break into the market for pandemic-related therapies, the company has decided to halt development for a potential COVID-19 drug. Merck picked up the treatment through a $425 million acquisition of OncoImmune.

Early analysis of trials for the drug, MK-7110, showed that it could be effective at reducing death in severely ill COVID-19 patients. Then in February, the FDA asked for additional data on the drug beyond what Merck produced in its phase 3 trails.

Citing this regulatory uncertainty, and the cost and time required to address it, the company said it will discontinue development of the drug.

Merck also abandoned efforts to develop its own coronavirus vaccine earlier this year after its two candidates were shown to be less effective than others being trialed.

Despite its own setbacks, the company has still made moves to contribute to the pandemic fight. Last month, Merck announced it will expand its manufacturing capabilities to help produce J&J’s vaccine.