No, no, no Merck (NYSE: MRK). You are not going to do this. You are not going to make all of humanity wait for your brand spanking new anti-viral drug (Molnupiravir) that you have touted as the answer to the world’s prayers for COVID-19. No one has to wait. Not even for a minute. Because we have such a drug right now. It’s called ivermectin — and it is preventing the disease and saving lives from COVID-19 in every country and region where it is being used.
You know ivermectin well. It is a 40-year-old workhorse of a medicine on which you held the patent until 1996. While it was first developed for veterinary use in the late 1970s against animal parasites, your company soon saw its potential for human use as an anti-parasitic agent. Since then, it has successfully eradicated pernicious pandemics in low-income and developing countries. And in 1987, to the great credit of then Merck CEO P. Roy Vagelos, your company initiated a successful collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), several non-governmental organizations and affected national governments to mount an ivermectin donation program as an act of pure corporate compassion to bring healing to the countries unable to afford the medicine that would quell rising cases of river blindness. It worked. “As much as needed, for as long as needed,” said Vagelos.
But now, nearly 35 years later, in the midst of the most devastating global pandemic in a century, you have strayed off mission…and far from the heart-centered soul Vagelos brought to the ethos of your company. Your betrayal of the high-minded principles of the kind of humanitarian leadership your company once modeled has been so egregious, that instead of saving lives, it is costing thousands of people to lose their lives.
Ivermectin is the drug you should be shouting about from the mountaintops — not a medicine that can never hope to be as efficacious as ivermectin. But you are not. Instead of ringing the bell and taking on the role of world’s most influential champion of ivermectin; and helping people gain easy access to the medicine that would save them, you have sold your soul in fevered worship of the omnipotent dollar.
Merck, you are undoubtedly aware of the (now irrefutable) mountains of scientific data that shows Ivermectin’s ability to prevent and treat COVID-19 in every phase of the disease. Dozens of trials have been conducted across the world, with nearly all showing reproducible, large magnitude outcomes in time to viral clearance, decreases in viral replication and viral load, prevention of transmission and the stopping of disease deterioration in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Ivermectin has been shown to hasten recovery, while reducing the number of hospitalizations and fatality rates.
Ivermectin has been administered worldwide nearly 4 billion times. The WHO has long included ivermectin on its “list of essential medicines”. Plus, the drug is cheap (because it is now off-patent and there’s not much money to be made on it anymore). It is globally available, and is one of the world’s safest medicines. Safer than even an aspirin.
But Merck, you would much rather divert attention as far away from ivermectin as possible and have the world turn towards your new anti-viral designer drug — now in development and undergoing clinical trials. You and other pharmaceutical companies have ample resources at your disposal, so you are quite used to getting your way. In this case, you want ivermectin to just go away…disappear, as it were…into the annals of “outdated drugs that used to work but are now obsolete” to make room for your new entry into the COVID-drug wars…a drug which you will patent and from which you will earn substantial income.
By the way, there is no crime in that…earning robust revenues. Pharmaceutical giants like yourselves are in business to earn money, and to bring the world drugs and medicines that help people live better and longer. For that, much respect is due.
But it IS criminal to publicly deny the science that says ivermectin can indeed be a global solution to the pandemic and then trample on the drug that has saved millions by rolling out a misleading (at best) press release that would work to push ivermectin aside. Making room for your new drug — one that may be difficult for people around the world to afford — is what is important to you, right? Apparently it’s important enough to let people die needlessly while you work to get your new baby tested and approved.
From your press release:
“Company scientists continue to carefully examine the findings of all available and emerging studies of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 for evidence of efficacy and safety. It is important to note that, to-date, our analysis has identified:
- No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies;
- No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and;
- A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.
We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information.”
The medical evidence and the scientific data disprove each point Merck seeks to score here. I don’t believe that causing people to lose their lives is why you got into this business in 1891. But this is exactly what you are doing.
Highly respected doctors, scientists and researchers across the globe who are pleading, pleading, pleading with their governments to stop and listen to the science; to listen to what they are telling them, to start saving their citizens have little hope of out-shouting you. Your megaphone is far bigger than theirs. You see though, it is not only you. It is you and the many other pharmaceutical companies with skin in the game just like you, Merck, who want ivermectin to just curl up and die because there’s no money in it. (Really none that would mean anything to you.) So if ivermectin is finally recognized for its myriad lifesaving properties, and it becomes globally used to stop the pandemic, well then… it will eat into the mega-profits from the (necessary) vaccines…and from the the Remdmesivirs, the monoclonal antibodies, the Regenerons, convalescent plasmas and other high ticket therapies that don’t work one whit as well as ivermectin, but which cost a very pretty penny.
Merck, study your company’s history of human kindness, and imagine how Mr. Vagelos might decide to act. I am calling on you to do the one right thing in this desperate moment. Please issue a brand new press release. One that says, “We have reviewed the science again, and it is clear that we do indeed have a medicine that will help to stop this pandemic. It is ivermectin — a drug we introduced to the world 45 years ago…and one that will save us all today.”