Thailand to finalise procurement contract for new Covid-19 drug within 2 weeks

PHOTO: Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corporation

The Health Ministry says a contract to purchase supplies of the first oral Covid-19 treatment will be completed in the next 2 weeks. According to a Bangkok Post report, the first batch of pills could arrive as soon as November.

Somsak Akkasilp from the Department of Medical Services says the government has ordered enough to treat 200,000 people, adding that patients with mild symptoms will be given 40 pills over the course of 5 days. The Bangkok Post adds that he would not be drawn on the value of the contract, declaring it confidential.

Somsak says the timing of the first delivery depends on how quickly Molnupiravir is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, adding that it will then need to be approved by the Thai FDA. Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control has pointed out that no drug has a 100% efficacy rate and should ideally be given in the early stages of infection.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan are among the countries rushing to place orders for the antiviral drug. The Philippines has agreed to carry out a domestic trial of the treatment in the hope of more favourable terms when procuring the medication.

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Merck plans to produce 10 million Molnupiravir doses by the end of the year, 1.7 million of which will go to the US government, at a cost of over US$700 per 5-day treatment course. The drug works by creating errors in Covid-19’s genetic code. The results from interim trials show that it could reduce the chance of death or hospitalisation with Covid-19 by 50% in people most at risk of severe symptoms.

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SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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