BEIJING - Merck & Co's COVID-19 antiviral treatment molnupiravir is expected to be launched in the Chinese market on Friday, Sinopharm's president Liu Yong was quoted as saying by state-backed media outlet Kankan News on Wednesday.

Merck said earlier in a filing that Sinopharm is the only legally authorized distributor of molnupiravir in China, which is sold under the brand name Lagevrio and was developed by Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

(Reporting by Ella Cao and Meg Shen Editing by Mark Potter)