Merck Canada announced it plans to manufacture its oral antiviral COVID-19 drug in Canada, making the country a global hub for the production of the potentially game-changing treatment.
The drug company has invested $19 million to scale up production of its antiviral drug, molnupiravir, at Thermo Fisher Scientific's facility in Whitby, Ont.
The drug — one of the first treatments for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients — is currently pending Health Canada approval.
The antiviral works by blocking the enzyme essential for viral replication.
Merck's clinical trial showed a 50 per cent reduced risk of hospitalization or death compared to placebo patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.
Last week Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced Canada had signed a deal to purchase 500,000 courses of the oral antiviral drug, with the option to purchase another 500,000 if Health Canada gives the green light.