Merck pauses Russia investments, to supply essential medicines

March 16 (Reuters) - Drugmaker Merck and Co (MRK.N) said on Wednesday it would not make further investments in Russia, but continue to supply life-saving medicines and vaccines to the country.

Merck joins a growing list of drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Eli Lilly (LLY.N), Novartis (NOVN.S) and Abbvie Inc (ABBV.N), which are pausing investments or scaling back their business in Russia after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Signage is seen at the Merck & Co. headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, U.S., November 13, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Western companies have come under pressure to leave Russia, but the healthcare sector has not pulled out because medicines and medical devices and equipment are considered necessary for humanitarian reasons and are excluded from sanctions.

Merck said it would deliver 135,000 courses of its COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, to Ukraine under a supply agreement with the government.

The company does not have any research or production facilities in Russia, a company spokesperson said.

Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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