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First shipment of antiviral pill expected in November

Updated: Jun 15

Local pharmaceutical company MedEthix, Inc. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, said its first shipment of the investigational antiviral drug molnupiravir will arrive within November 2021.

The shipment, which will also be the first in the Philippines, will contain 300,000 bottles of the drug with brand name Molnaflu.

Each bottle contains 40 pieces of 200 milligram (mg) pills good for five days of treatment against mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Each tablet will cost P100 to P150.

The regimen is 4 tablets, or 800 mg, twice a day for five days, JackPharma, Inc. president Meny Hernandez said. JackPharma is MedEthix’s sales representative for Molnaflu.

Monaliza B. Salian, MedEthix president and chief executive officer, said the drug will be distributed initially under a compassionate special permit (CSP) granted by the Food and Drug Administration to four hospitals in September 2021. She did not identify the hospitals.

COVID patients or their relatives would need to present a doctor’s prescription to buy the medicine from the hospital pharmacy with CSP.

More hospitals across the country are still applying for CSP, Salian said.

Molnaflu is being manufactured by Aurobindo Pharma, one of eight manufacturers in India that were licensed by Merck (MSD) to produce the drug.

MedEthix is the second company to announce that it is bringing in molnupiravir into the country. The first, Faberco Life Sciences, Inc., earlier said it has partnered with RiteMed Philippines, Inc. to distribute the same drug in the country.

Molnupiravir was developed by Emory University, through its non-profit biotechnology company Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory.

The drug targets the viral polymerase, an enzyme needed for SARS-CoV-2 to make copies of itself. Molnupiravir works by introducing errors into the genetic code of the virus so that even if it replicates, the copies are already harmless.

It is being further developed by Merck & Co., Inc. in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which licensed the drug from Emory in 2020.

In its clinical trials in India, Aurobindo found that 81% of the 1,200 patients taking molnupiravir had negative RT-PCR results on the fifth day of treatment. All the patients were treated at home. (Ventures Cebu)

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