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Health And Family

What is Molnupiravir? World’s first COVID-19 antiviral pill may soon be available in Philippines

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
What is Molnupiravir? Worldâs first COVID-19 antiviral pill may soon be available in Philippines
This handout photo obtained May 26, 2021, courtesy of Pharmaceutical company Merck shows capsules of the experimental antiviral drug Molnupiravir. Merck said on October 1, 2021, it will seek authorization in the US for molnupiravir for Covid-19, after the pill showed "compelling results" in a clinical trial. The experimental drug, significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death when administered to high-risk patients early in the disease, Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said in a statement.
Handout / Merck & Co, Inc. / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may soon have access to Molnupiravir, an antiviral medication that has received limited authorization for use against COVID-19.

Local pharmaceutical company Faberco Life Sciences Inc. (Faberco) said in a statement sent to Philstar.com that the company expects the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve its application for the use of Molnupiravir in the country after the oral treatment received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the United Kingdom last week.

“We are anticipating the approval from the Philippine FDA in the coming weeks,” said Faberco Life Sciences Inc. founding member and Chairman of the Board, Vinay Panemanglor.

Faberco, in partnership with RiteMed Philippines Inc., are set to distribute the antiviral COVID pill to hospitals, medical institutions, and treatment sites under Compassionate Special Permits (CSPs), which allow institutions to procure and distribute products under study, or those awaiting approval for immediate use in emergency situations.

Molnupiravir: Fast facts

  • It was developed by US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Merck is the first company to report the pill’s trial results, but other companies are also working on similar treatments. US company Pfizer started trials of two antiviral tablets, while Swiss company Roche works on a similar medicine.
  • It was originally formulated to treat flu.
  • It acts by introducing errors into the virus’ genetic code, targeting an enzyme that enables the virus to copy itself. This is expected to prevent the virus from multiplying and keeping its levels low, so the disease will no longer become severe.
  • It can reportedly cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% when given as a five-day treatment regimen in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, according to clinical trials. 
  • It is the first COVID-19 drug that can be administered outside of a hospital setting, before the illness has progressed to a severe stage. As such, it is expected to cut down risks for hospitalization and death.
  • Earlier clinical trials on 775 patients found that only 7.3% of those given the drug were hospitalized and none died, while in the group given a placebo or a dummy pill, 14.1% were hospitalized and eight died of COVID-19. The results were published in a press release and were not yet peer-reviewed.

In the UK:

  • The drug has been recommended for use twice a day to vulnerable patients and must be taken “as soon as possible” after getting a positive COVID-19 test result and within five days that the symptoms manifest.
  • It has been authorized for use to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 and for patients with at least one risk factor for developing severe disease. These factors include old age, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
  • It will be given to both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients through an ongoing study on its effectiveness.

Faberco is likewise expecting an approval from the Philippine FDA for the (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine COVOVAX, which received its first authorization in Indonesia earlier last week. Other countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, and the World Health organization (WHO) are expected to approve the vaccine soon. 

“These two products, Molnupiravir and COVOVAX, showcase Faberco’s commitment to bringing in quality pharmaceutical products to the Philippines. In this case, we are honored to have the opportunity to help bring both a prevention and a treatment to the country, as we work toward ending the pandemic and getting back to normal,” said Panemanglor. 

RELATED: Pandemic anxiety could be permanent: Psychologist gives tips for prevention

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