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Molnupiravir, the Covid-19 pill, to be developed in Thailand

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand will develop their own version of the Covid-19 antiviral pill Molnupiravir. (via Merck)

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is planning to partner with Chulabhorn Research Institute to develop a domestic version of Molnupiravir, the Covid-19 antiviral pill. The announcement was made by Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul in response to the rising Omicron variant outbreak proliferating across Thailand, sending daily infection rates soaring again.

Molnupiravir was developed in the US by a joint effort between pharmaceutical giants Merck in New Jersey and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics out of Florida originally. In November, Thailand was deemed not poor enough to be eligible for Merck’s generics programme and instead authorised the importing of the Covid-19 fighting drug. Last month the government arranged to purchase 50,000 courses of the drug for 500 million baht.

When word got out of a Covid-19 fighting pill, hopes were high that Molnupiravir was the magic bullet to finally turn the tides in the pandemic. But after narrowly winning approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, subsequent testing showed that it was not nearly as effective as first thought. Still, the president of Merck Research Laboratories believes that it will be effective against the Omicron variant and any other strains of Covid-19.

While Thailand awaits its order, they’re still also in discussions with Pfizer to purchase another 50,000 courses of their rival drug Paxlovid. Indonesia also just approved Molnupiravir for emergency use and has ordered 400,000 pills.

Other countries in Southeast Asia and Asia are also looking to develop their own version of Molnupiravir just as Thailand is now. Despite their pill order, Indonesia has plans to partner with pharmaceutical company PT Amarox Pharma Global in April or May to begin development. Bangladesh and India are also reported to be working on their own versions of the Covid-19 battling drug.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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