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Lao Manufacturer To Make Molnupravir For Covid Treatment

Source: Vientiane Times

The Ministry of Health has given approval for State Enterprise Pharmaceutical Factory No. 3 to produce molnupiravir, an oral medication used in the treatment of Covid-19. 

The factory’s Deputy Managing Director, Dr Phoukhong Chommala, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that the factory would start producing the pills in December, and would manufacture enough to treat about 1,000 Covid-19 patients, following advice from Minister of Health Dr Bounfeng Phommalaysith.

The main benefit of molnupiravir is that it can be administered orally in pill form instead of needing to be injected. 

“We expect to initially provide the drug to about 1,000 Covid patients under a pilot programme,” Dr Phoukhong said.

Use of the new drug treatment is part of government efforts to combat the spread of Covid, he added.

The pilot programme will target people aged 18-65 who have mild or moderate symptoms of Covid and are in the early stages of the disease. To qualify for treatment, they must not show signs of pneumonia or oxygen shortage. They will be given the pills over a period of five days.

Other countries using molnupiravir are administering the drug to people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions.

A senior official from the Department of Food and Drugs, Ministry of Health, who asked not to be named, said the department is looking into the efficacy of molnupiravir and whether it is more effective than other Covid drugs developed for use through vaccination.

The manufacture of molnupiravir in Laos and the pilot programme will be monitored by the World Health Organisation.

Molnupiravir was originally developed to treat influenza at Emory University in the United States. It was then acquired by Miami-based company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which later partnered with Merck & Co. to develop the drug further.