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Merck’s new anti-Covid pill maybe in Thailand by December

An agreement to buy anti-Covid Molnupiravir pills, a new oral drug for treating COVID-19 is before the government’s legal body in order to assessed and signed. If approved, the shipment is likely to arrive in December.  Molnupiravir, which suppresses the SARS-CoV-2 virus through a similar mechanism as the currently-in-use favipiravir, is pending approval by regulators. The Ministry of Public Health is set to propose buying enough of the drug for 200,000 patients.

Deputy Government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek said Molnupiravir needs to first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States before Thailand’s own FDA proceeds with the drug’s certification. Approval in Thailand is expected to take place in late November or early December, after which procurement of the drug will be made under the central budget.

Molnupiravir combats COVID-19 via a similar mechanism as favipiravir. The orally administered drug could become the first choice of treatment for COVID patients if approved.

Information supplied by the Rural Doctor Society indicates that Molnupiravir was first developed to treat influenza infections. Studies have shown that the drug is effective against several coronavirus strains, including SARS, MERS and COVID-19. Molnupiravir is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials in humans and is pending approval by the US FDA. If the trials confirm the effectiveness of the drug in reducing the severity of COVID-19 and the associated fatality rate, the drug could receive approval for use as emergency medicine for COVID-19.

The Rural Doctor Society notes, however, that the best way to stop the spread of COVID19 at present is vaccination and the observance of self-protection measures under the New Normal model.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand with Merck on a study on whether the pill can prevent Covid infections. The study will be carried out in 5 of the country’s major hospitals, including Bangkok’s Rajavidhi Hospital.

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