Medical expert calls for transition from favipiravir to more effective molnupiravir

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A leading health professional says Thailand should phase out the use of favipiravir, saying molnupiravir is a more effective Covid-19 treatment. Dr Opass Putcharoen, from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Clinical Centre, says this will be essential as the country moves to declaring Covid-19 endemic. He added that the cost of molnupiravir produced in India is somewhere between 600 and 700 baht per treatment course, compared to 50,000 baht for the molnupiravir version produced by Merck.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the Public Health Ministry has previously stated that a course of favipiravir costs around 1,000 baht, whereas a molnupiravir treatment course costs 10,000 baht. Earlier this week, Cabinet gave the go-ahead to ditch a procurement plan for 50,000 doses of molnupiravir, in favour of 17 million favipiravir pills and 5,166 vials of the antiviral medication, remdesivir.

Opass points out that while favipiravir has been the main treatment of choice in Thailand, there is no clear data that proves its efficacy. By contrast, a recent study shows that molnupiravir is 30% effective at preventing severe illness in Covid-19 patients. The medic is calling on the government to import molnupiravir from India and ensure all hospitals have adequate supplies, so it can be administered promptly to those who need it.

He goes on to say that certain categories of Covid-19 patients are still at risk of severe illness, even if they’re fully vaccinated. These include people on immunosuppressive drugs, who need access to effective treatment. He adds that while new infections are expected to drop 2 – 3 weeks after the Songkran holiday, the virus still needs to be closely monitored.

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SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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