Merck & Ridgeback’s Molnupiravir Receives Special Emergency Approval in Japan

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Global pharmaceutical major Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) recently revealed that its investigational, orally administered antiviral medicine for treatment of COVID-19, molnupiravir, has been granted Special Approval for Emergency in Japan.

Molnupiravir is being developed by Merck in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Strategic Impact

The approval follows a previously announced supply agreement wherein the Japanese government will purchase 1.6 million courses of molnupiravir to accelerate access to patients.

This approval comes close on the heels of molnupiravir receiving conditional marketing authorization in the U.K. in November for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults.

Merck is expected to report its upcoming earnings on February 3, 2022.

Management Commentary

President of Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Dean Y. Li, said “We believe that molnupiravir will be a critical addition to the measures available to help curb the impact of COVID-19 on patients, healthcare systems and public health in Japan. All of us at Merck have embraced our responsibility to bring this important medicine forward to patients globally as quickly as possible.”

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Analyst Ratings

Recently, Mizuho Securities analyst Mara Goldstein assigned a Buy rating to the stock with a price target of $100, which implies upside potential of 32.1% from current levels.

The Street is cautiously optimistic about the stock with a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 8 Buys and 9 Holds. The average Merck stock price prediction of $90.31 implies the stock has upside potential of 19.3% from current levels. Shares have declined by about 1.3% over the past year.

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