Merck & Ridgeback to Supply Additional Courses of Molnupiravir to UK

Global pharmaceutical major Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) recently revealed that the company and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have received an order for an additional 1.75 million patient courses of molnupiravir from the Government of United Kingdom.

Molnupiravir is an investigational, orally administered form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Molnupiravir is being developed by Merck in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Following the news, shares of the company appreciated marginally during yesterday’s trading session. However, it pared all its gains to close at $75.53 in the extended trade.

Implications of the Order

With this additional order, the U.K. Government has now committed to purchase a total of 2.23 million courses of molnupiravir from Merck and Ridgeback.

In November, the medicine received conditional marketing authorization in the U.K. for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults, with a positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test. The medicine will be administered to those who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. Meanwhile, patients are already receiving the medicine for treatment.

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Analyst Ratings

Yesterday, Mizuho Securities analyst Mara Goldstein reiterated a Buy rating on the stock with a price target of $100, which implies upside potential of 31.3% from current levels.

According to Analysts Ratings, the stock has a Moderate Buy based on 8 Buys and 9 Holds. The average Merck price target of $90.31 implies the stock has upside potential of 18.6% from current levels. Shares have gained about 0.14% over the past year.

Hedge Funds’ Confidence

TipRanks’ Hedge Fund Trading Activity tool shows that hedge fund confidence in Merck is currently Very Negative. Moreover, the cumulative change in holdings across the 21 hedge funds, which were active in the last quarter, was a decrease of 8.8 million shares.

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