By Patricia Mirasol
Molnupiravir, an oral pill for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19, will be available in the Philippines starting November. The prescription medication will be dispensed in hospitals with a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the brand name Molnaflu.
Four undisclosed local hospitals already have a CSP, with four undisclosed more currently applying for one.
A CSP is a special permit granted to physicians or hospitals to use drugs which are not yet registered or are in the process of registration in the Philippines for the treatment of seriously ill patients.
The oral medicine will benefit the 84% of Filipinos with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases, said Meneleo “Meny” C. Hernandez, Jr., president of pharmaceutical company JackPharma, Inc., in an Oct. 27 press conference. “Maaagapan siya [The progression of the disease can be arrested]. The patients will be treated very early on,” he said.
JackPharma, Inc. partnered with MedEthix, a pharmaceutical importer, to increase the reach of molnupiravir (Molnaflu) to medical institutions, hospitals, and treatment sites in compliance with the FDA’s CSP requirements.
Its mechanism of action is to insert itself in the body of the COVID-19 virus, making all copies of the virus defective when it replicates. Molnupiravir, which was developed by MSD (known as Merck in the United States and Canada) and Miami-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, comes in a 200 mg capsule. Its recommended regimen is 800 mg, to be taken twice daily for five days, for a total recommended dose of 40 capsules.
The initial shipment coming in next month, November, will be enough to treat 300,000 patients – or enough to cover the order of the four Philippine hospitals that already have CSPs, said Monaliza B. Salian, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of MedEthix.
“We already applied for an Emergency Use Authorization with the FDA yesterday,” she told the audience at the press conference.
Ms. Salian added that Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., the India-based manufacturer of the drug, has the capacity to meet the anticipated demand in the Philippine market.
Because it is under CSP, patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 can only get the prescribed drug in the pharmacies of hospitals with a CSP.
“We estimate each pill to be between P100-150,” Mr. Hernandez said.
Queries about the drug can be coursed to MedEthix at firstname.lastname@example.org, 632-737-37777, 0969-017-0380, or 0945-455-9829. Patients who experience adverse effects while taking the drug may contact JackPharma at email@example.com or 0917-168-5225.