UPDATE 1-Merck to supply up to 1 mln courses of COVID-19 pill to Canada

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(Adds additional details on the treatment, background)

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Merck & Co said on Friday it would supply Canada with up to 1 million courses of molnupiravir, its experimental oral antiviral medicine for the treatment of COVID-19.

The government of Canada has secured access to 500,000 courses in 2022, with options for up to 500,000 more, pending Health Canada's approval, the company said.

Merck said it had filed the final molnupiravir real-time application seeking approval in Canada last month.

Rival Pfizer Inc said on Wednesday it had started the real-time submission of an application seeking Health Canada's approval of its oral COVID-19 antiviral drug candidate.

Canada's government earlier this week said it was in advanced talks with Pfizer and Merck regarding a purchase agreement for COVID-19 antiviral drugs as the country prepares to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The country has so far discovered a total of 11 cases of the variant.

Merck said it expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021, with at least 20 million courses to be produced in 2022.

Merck also entered into a pact with the U.S. Government to supply about 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir, upon Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or approval from the country's health regulator. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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