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The company should publicly commit to human rights in relation to product development and marketing, by adopting an official human rights policy statement recognising the right to the highest attainable standard of health. The company should endeavour to integrate human rights into its strategies, policies, programmes, projects, and activities.
The company should also have a publicly available global access plan for their Covid-19 product, based on human rights standards, with measurable targets and lines of accountability.
MSD has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with 5 generic companies in India and the Medicines Patent Pool, generating access to Molnupiravir in over 100 low- and middle-income countries.
MSD has a comprehensive human rights policy which includes adherence to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Bill of Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, among others.
The company should constructively engage with international initiatives for the equitable distribution of vaccines and therapeutics, such as the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) or the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), and the ACT Accelerator (COVAX). The company should also publicly commit to not enforcing the exclusive rights of Covid-19 related patents, and enter into non-exclusive, transparent licensing agreements for its Covid-19 products with other companies.
MSD has entered into non-exclusive, voluntary licences to 105 countries through the deal with the MPP. However, for countries not included in the MPP deal, patents are enforced normally (no statement of non-enforcement has been made).
MSD signed a long-term supply agreement on January 17 2022 to supply UNICEF and the ACT Accelerator Therapeutics Partnership with 3 million courses of Molnupiravir to be made available to low- and middle-income countries in the first half of 2022
The company should engage in efforts to further equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines/therapeutics, by equitably distributing its supplies globally, devising fair pricing strategies, and making the active ingredient for its product available to other manufacturers. The company should also engage in full technology transfer to other manufacturers, including the necessary transfer of skills, legal components, knowledge and intellectual property. Where applicable, the company should agree to waive rights in regulatory test data, and refrain from enforcing TRIPS+ measures.
The deal with the MPP obligates licensees to enter into additional supply agreements to supply Merck with Molnupiravir at the cost of production plus a “reasonable” mark-up (Clause 3B 1.2) MSD is therefore not making the active ingredient for Molnupiravir available to other manufacturers.
MSD has stated that it will adopt a tiered pricing approach for the countries included in the license – many middle-income countries have to pay around 40x more than what the generic companies are charging (US: 700 US dollars; Thailand 300 US dollars; India (generic) around 20 US dollars. The drug costs around 8 US dollars to produce).
This tiered pricing strategy is good for low-income countries, but it excludes many middle-income countries that are unable to pay the full price.