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Saturday, January 22, 2022

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

The government pharmaceutical organization is planning to partner with the Chulbhorn Research Institute to develop a homegrown version of molnupiravir, a Covid-19 antiviral pill. The announcement was made by Public Health Minister Anutin Charanvirakul in response to the growing Omicron variant outbreak across Thailand, with daily infection rates rising again.

Molnupiravir was developed in the US by a joint effort of pharmaceutical giant Merck in New Jersey and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics based out of Florida. In November, Thailand was deemed not poor enough to be eligible for Merck’s generics program and instead authorized imports of the drug that fights COVID-19. Last month the government made arrangements to buy 50,000 courses of the drug for 50 crore baht.

When word got out of a Covid-19 battle pill, expectations were high that Molnupiravir was ultimately the magic bullet to turn the tide in the pandemic. But after receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, subsequent testing showed it was not nearly as effective as previously thought. Nevertheless, the president of Merck Research Laboratories believes it will be effective against the Omicron variant and any other strains of COVID-19.

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While Thailand awaits their order, they are still in discussions with Pfizer to buy another 50,000 courses of their rival drug Paxlovid. Indonesia has also approved Molnupiravir for emergency use only and has ordered 400,000 tablets.

Southeast Asia and other countries in Asia are also looking to develop their own versions of Molnupiravir, similar to Thailand. Regardless of its pill order, Indonesia plans to partner with pharmaceutical company PT Amrox Pharma Global in April or May to begin development. Bangladesh and India are also reported to be working on their own versions of the drug battling COVID-19.

Source: Phuket News

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