“In addition to our efforts to develop potential vaccines to SARS-CoV-2, we have also been evaluating our own anti-viral assets and those from external sources for their potential to treat individuals with COVID-19,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Clinical evaluation of EIDD-2801 in COVID-19 patients is just beginning, now that phase 1 studies have demonstrated that the compound is well-tolerated. Since preclinical studies demonstrate that EIDD-2801 has potent antiviral properties against multiple coronavirus strains including SARS-CoV-2, we are eager to advance the next phase of clinical studies as rapidly and responsibly as possible.”
Under terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will gain exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize EIDD-2801 and related molecules. Ridgeback Bio will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, specified milestones and a share of the net proceeds of EIDD-2801 and related molecules, if approved. Merck will be responsible for clinical development, regulatory filings and manufacturing. The transaction is subject customary closing conditions.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked closely with our network of esteemed collaborators to advance EIDD-2801 into the clinic,” said Wendy Holman, CEO, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. “This agreement with Merck, a leader in infectious disease therapeutics, positions us to harness the full potential of EIDD-2801 and, if approved, deliver it to the patients that need it globally.”
Merck and Ridgeback say they are committed to ensure that any medicines they develop for SARS-CoV-2 will be accessible and affordable globally.