Covid-19 drug likely to arrive December as procurement agreement in final stages

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The world’s first oral treatment for Covid-19 could be available in Thailand from December, as a draft agreement nears completion. According to a Bangkok Post report, the Department of Medical Services chief says the draft procurement deal is awaiting legal approval from the government.

Somsak Akksilp says his department is in talks with the Thai subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Merck, manufacturers of the Molnupiravir pill, which has been shown to reduce death and hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 50%. The drug works by creating an error in the genetic code of the virus and is the world’s first antiviral oral medication for the treatment of Covid-19. Interim trials showed it was effective against all variants.

Molnupiravir is awaiting emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and will also need the go-ahead from the Thai FDA before it can be administered in the kingdom. Somsak is hopeful that Thai FDA approval could be forthcoming by November or December at the latest.

The DMS boss has previously refused to discuss the procurement cost, telling the media that it was confidential information. However, he has confirmed the government has reserved 200,000 treatment courses. Merck plans to produce 10 million courses by the end of this year.

“We can’t give more details on the amount to be purchased as it might affect the company’s quota for ASEAN members. But I’m confident we will get it at a reasonable price.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand is now working with Merck to ascertain if the drug can prevent Covid-19 infection. The study will be carried out in 5 of the country’s major hospitals, including Bangkok’s Rajavidhi Hospital.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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