Merck, the New Jersey-headquartered pharmaceutical company, has announced an agreement under which other drug makers will be able to produce a COVID-19 pill that’s previously been touted as a potential game-changer for the pandemic era.

A rep for the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), as reported by the Associated Press on Wednesday, said that a voluntary licensing agreement had been signed for the pill with Merck and collaborator Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. In short, the agreement means the MPP can grant additional licenses to other companies approved to make the drug, the official name for which is molnupiravir.

For as long as the World Health Organization considers the pandemic to be a worldwide emergency situation, neither drug company will receive royalties. Frank Clyburn, executive vice president and president of Human Health at Merck, said in a statement released Wednesday that this latest move will further their approach to providing “broad, affordable access” to the medicine.

“Merck’s mission to save and improve lives is a truly global commitment,’ Clyburn said. “This agreement with MPP is another important element in our multi-faceted strategy to accelerate broad, affordable access to molnupiravir, if approved or authorized, for patients no matter where they live, including in countries where governments face greater challenges to finance healthcare.”

Previously, Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics shared a breakdown of the “compelling results” seen in clinical trials for the oral COVId-19 treatment. The medicine is said to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death, with Merck CEO Robert M. Davis previously sharing his assessment that molnupiravir could become an “important medicine” moving forward.

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