It looks like Merck has agreed to a royalty free license for molnupiravir for countries in the Medicines Patent Pool. The NYT article (second link below) does a better job of explaining the overall licensing landscape for this drug (not all countries are in the Medicines Patent Pool).
One caveat: I have not read the actual licenses and it's possible that there are restrictions in the fine print, so to speak.
>>>Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.
The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The agreement will allow the Medicines Patent Pool to grant further licenses to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drug maker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be global emergency. Molnupiravir is the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease. . . .
Merck reported this month that molnupiravir
cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.
An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems.<<<
LONDON (AP) — Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.
>>>The licenses that Merck issued to the Indian generic makers restricts sales to developing countries and excludes most middle-income ones, including China and Russia — the site of a current raging Covid outbreak — raising the possibility that citizens in these nations, which often have weak health systems, will not get access to the drug.
The patent pool agreement for molnupiravir also excludes middle-income countries and most nations in Latin America, Mr. Love said.<<<
“What are you going to do for countries like Chile or Colombia, Thailand or Mexico?” he asked. “They’re not in the license.”
The company announced a licensing deal that will allow the drug, molnupiravir, to be made and sold cheaply in 105 developing nations.