How Capitalism Created Molnupiravir, the First Drug Against COVID-19

The development of medicines thanks to private investment has made it possible to eradicate all types of diseases

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Capitalism once again proved that it has triumphed in its contribution to science. Last week, the publication of Phase III clinical studies (MOVe-OUT) of a new oral treatment, called Molnupiravir, effective for coronavirus generated hope in the scientific community.

It is an investigational oral antiviral drug for the treatment of mild to moderate disease in adults who are at risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

The studies showed that the experimental pill reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%. This is according to the positive interim analysis of the Phase 3 study. In the interim analysis, 7.3% of patients receiving Molnupiravir were hospitalized or died, compared to 14.1% of patients treated with placebo.

Who is behind this scientific breakthrough of Molnupiravir?

The drug was developed by the pharmaceutical company MSD, known as Merck&Co in the United States and Canada, together with its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which has already requested approval for emergency use from the health authority.

“More tools and treatments are urgently needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become a leading cause of death and continues to profoundly affect patients, families, and societies and strain health care systems all around the world,” said Robert M. Davis, Merck’s chief executive officer and president.

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In the face of the hopes built up by the company, questions were raised about the company’s history. All the answers concluded that innovation and capitalism are fundamental tools for the development of society.

Merck & Co. was founded in the United States on January 1, 1891. Twenty-three-year-old George Merck established the company to distribute chemical products in New York City. In 1933, the Merck Research Laboratory was established in Rahway, New Jersey. The laboratory represented Merck’s initial foray into pharmacological research and included three separate divisions: Pure Research, the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research and Applied Research.

In its history, the company has developed different drugs and vaccines for many pathologies. In their philosophy they recognize that they work for profit. However, they are clear that what motivates them to continue innovating has been to help society.

At a turning point for the company, their official website tells, George W. Merck gave a talk at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, in which he made a famous statement about how the medical and pharmaceutical community could succeed.

“We try to remember that medicine is for the patient. We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits,” he said.

The development of medicines through private investment has made it possible to eradicate diseases, and the past year demonstrated the need for private efforts to continue contributing to medicine and society.

Molnupiravir se  suma a las vacunas en la lucha contra la pandemia (Imagen: EFE)
Molnupiravir joins the vaccines in the fight against the pandemic (Image: EFE)

The Swedish writer Johan Norberg, in his writing In Defense of Global Capitalism (2001), highlighted some advances in the planet thanks to the contribution of this economic system. Among them, he pointed out that between 1965 and 1998, the average citizen’s income doubled from 2,497 to 4,839 dollars. He also indicated that the material development of the last century has freed more than 3 billion human beings from poverty.

Moreover, we do not have to go that far. Less than two years ago, the world began to face challenges with the arrival of the coronavirus, the announcement of a pandemic and the collapse of the healthcare system in different countries. Although it seemed that it would be difficult to achieve a solution in the short term, private companies and pro-market leaders managed to do so.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, then-President Donald Trump had already met with entrepreneurs on the development of a vaccine. On May 15, the Republican announced the official start of Operation Warp Speed, which was a public-private partnership initiated by the Federal Government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are very confident that we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year,” Donald Trump said at the time.

This achievement would not have been possible without the partnership between his government and the private enterprise. In fact, experts said that the soonest we could have an antidote for the disease would be in 18 months, but it was achieved in 8.

In previous centuries, human beings did not have the welfare conditions they have today. Today citizens have a better quality of life and this has been thanks to the fact that individual development has been allowed and with it the impulse of private companies that have given way to innovation.

While political systems such as socialism propose to take wealth from some to give it to others, capitalism encourages the generation of wealth for the enjoyment of society as a whole.

Finally, these developments demonstrate that the pandemic brought with it great economic and health devastation. But it also made it clear once again that, even in times when it seems that everything has already been created, capitalism and freedom are necessary to achieve more advanced and richer societies.

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