A treatment for COVID-19 created by the couple’s intuition… High-speed development in over a year


A secret story was revealed that the US pharmaceutical company Merck & Company (MSD)’s COVID-19 treatment was born thanks to the intuition and quick business judgment of an investor couple who were doctors.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) introduced the process of leading the development of an oral treatment for MSD by Wayne Holman and his wife, founders of Ridgebag Biotherapeutics on the 21st (local time).

The substance that is the prototype of the oral treatment ‘molnupiravir’ was developed for military use.

It was a treatment for soldiers exposed to biological weapons created by the former Soviet Union and the United States from a modified Venezuelan encephalitis virus during the Cold War.

It was in January 2020 that the Holmans paid attention to a treatment that Emory University researchers developed in 2018 and named EIDD-2801.

This was due to data showing that this treatment was effective against viruses that cause respiratory diseases in mammals and birds.

However, it was unclear whether EIDD-2801 was effective against the Corona 19 virus, and the fact that it had never been tested on a human was also a weakness.

Based on the experimental results alone, concerns have been raised that toxicity may occur if the dose is increased to have an effect in the human body.

However, the Holmans were convinced that EIDD-2801 could be the answer to COVID-19, which was at the beginning of the outbreak.

My husband Wayne recalled, “Even if there was a risk, we had to develop a cure. I knew there was no time to wait.”

Wayne, who started a pharmaceutical venture after making money as a doctor and investor, decided to put his money into developing treatments.

The couple signed a partnership agreement with the Emory University research team in March 2020 and started developing a treatment for COVID-19 using EIDD-2801.

Husband Wayne named the EIDD-2801 ‘Molnupiravir’ after taking inspiration from Thor’s hammer ‘Mjölnir’ in a cartoon he enjoyed as a child.

At the same time, a major American pharmaceutical company, MSD, was also looking for a candidate for a treatment for COVID-19.

MSD also noted the potential of EIDD-2801, but contact with the Emory University research team was at the time the Holmans had already signed a contract.

After being contacted, the Holmans decided to join hands with MSD.

It was because of the judgment that it would be advantageous to work with a large pharmaceutical company such as MSD to develop a new treatment.

The Holmans agreed to give MSD worldwide distribution rights if they develop a treatment, and a share in the profits.

The Holmans’ quick decision led to the rapid development of a treatment.

Initially, it was pointed out that mulnupiravir could cause mutations in human DNA, but as MSD, who has a lot of experience in developing new drugs, jumped into research, concerns about safety were also resolved.

In the end, MSD announced the results of the 3rd clinical trial last October and applied for approval of molnupiravir to drug regulatory agencies in each country.

It was the shortest drug development in the 130-year history of MSD.

According to JP Morgan, global sales of Molnupiravir are expected to reach $6 billion next year.


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