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Thailand to make COVID-19 pill: Anutin

BANGKOK: Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has announced that Thailand will move ahead with its plans to develop the COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 15 January 2022, 08:30AM

Photo: Merck / handout

Photo: Merck / handout

The move was to counter COVID-19 infections amid the rising Omicron outbreak, Anutin said yesterday (Jan 14), reported the Bangkok Post, citing a Reuters report.

“For molnupiravir, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization has plans to co-develop [this drug] with the Chulabhorn Research Institute," Mr Anutin told a news conference, said the report.

“A committee will research and produce the reactants, which will be additional support for future events,” he added.

Molnupiravir was developed by pharmaceutical firm Merck, based in New Jersey, and biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, based in Miami, Florida.

The pill caused much excitement last year, as it opened the door to providing protection from COVID-19 without injections. It was also heralded as a way to help protect children from COVID-19.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Nov 30 only narrowly voted to recommend the drug candidate’s emergency approval by 13 to 10.

“The agency’s lengthy deliberations could signal uncertainties about the antiviral’s efficacy and safety: full trial data submitted to the FDA suggest that molnupiravir is less effective than originally thought, dampening scientists’ hopes that the relatively cheap and easy-to-administer treatment might change the course of the pandemic,” reported respected science journal Nature.

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As recently as Tuesday this week, Dean Li, president of Merck Research Laboratories, said that molnupiravir would likely be effective against Omicron, and any other variant of COVID-19.

"We’re very confident that it will effect Omicron ... This mechanism in molecule (will) work for Omicron, and I would imagine against any variant that comes up," he said, according to Reuters.

Thailand has ordered 50,000 courses of molnupiravir from Merck and was still in discussion with Pfizer for 50,000 courses of its drug Paxlovid, noted the report by Reuters.

Meanwhile, other Southeast Asian nations are also planning to make versions of the drug, including Bangladesh and India, the report added.

In Indonesia, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Friday the country also planned to develop molnupiravir in partnership with pharmaceutical company PT Amarox Pharma Global starting in April or May, reported Reuters.

Indonesia approved molnupiravir for emergency use this week and 400,000 pills have arrived in the country, the report added.

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christysweet | 15 January 2022 - 23:06:28

One can use iron too, but the dosing required tends  to constipate. The accompanying type of food   is essential. ZincWorks (but not on bacteria) 

christysweet | 15 January 2022 - 10:50:38

Zinc- or any metal really- is the key to stopping particles from replicating. Send me 1000 baht and I'll send you the dosing requirements. Haven't had a cold  or flu in decades and even treated hemorrhaging dengue a few years back  ZincWorks (not on bacteria) 

Kurt | 15 January 2022 - 10:21:13

..'Develop', or copy-copy? Perhaps good idea to hand out a free welcome bottle of pills to arriving tourists?   That will be a 'tourist booster'.  :-)  And,.. is a good use of the coming extra new tourist tax.

Fascinated | 15 January 2022 - 09:30:50

According to Merck's own website this has only been shown to be 50% effective- will each dose come with an amulet?. Given that the FDA in the US actually relies on data from the companies the vote does not4 exactly inspire confidence. Watch 'Dopesick' for interaction between big pharma and the FDA. No wonder it is going into production given the company involved.

maverick | 15 January 2022 - 08:47:51

Ivermectin ! Why do we need a pill for Omicron, same reason pharmacies make a killing out of “cold” remedies I guess - Big Pharma will continue to mug us all off.


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