Bangkok Post

Govt to finalise deal for anti-Covid pills ‘in 2 weeks’


Thailand will finalise the contract to purchase molnupirav­ir — the world’s first oral medication to treat Covid19 — in the next two weeks, the Public Health Ministry said, adding the first shipment of the drug could arrive as early as November.

The head of the Department of Medical Services, Somsak Akkasilp, said the ministry has pre-ordered enough doses to treat 200,000 patients. A patient with mild symptoms will be prescribed 40 pills to be consumed over five days, he explained.

However, when asked about the value of the contract, Dr Somsak said the informatio­n is confidenti­al.

The drugs may arrive as early as November if they are approved by the United States’ Food and Drug

Administra­tion (FDA) soon, he said, before adding they will have to be approved by Thailand’s FDA too before they can be used to treat patients.

The director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Opas Karnkawinp­ong, said, generally speaking, drugs don’t have a 100% efficacy rate and are more effective when administer­ed in the early stages of an infection.

Since Merck & Co announced its developmen­t of molnupirav­ir, many countries have been scrambling to secure their supply of the medicine. Australia, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, are also looking into purchasing the groundbrea­king treatment.

The Philippine­s, meanwhile, has agreed to run a domestic trial of the drug in the hopes of getting more favourable procuremen­t terms with the company.

The experiment­al antiviral pill is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the Covid-19 virus.

Merck is expecting to produce 10 million doses of molnupirav­ir by the end of this year. The company has agreed to supply the US government 1.7 million doses at a US$700 (about 23,600 baht) per dose.

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