Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, a closely held biotechnology company, announced that the companies have entered into a collaboration agreement to develop EIDD-2801, an orally available antiviral candidate currently in early clinical development for the treatment of patients with Covid-19.
“In addition to our efforts to develop potential vaccines to SARS-CoV-2, we have also been evaluating our antiviral assets and those from external sources for their potential to treat individuals with Covid-19,” said 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 to the expiration or earlier termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and other 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,” says Wendy Holman, chief executive officer, 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 are committed to ensuring that any medicines we develop for SARS-CoV-2 will be accessible and affordable globally.