Source: Vientiane Times
The Ministry of Health has authorised three privately-owned pharmaceutical factories to produce molnupiravir, an oral medication used in the treatment of Covid-19.
Production of the drug is being stepped up in response to the growing number of infections across Laos.
Director General of the ministry’s Department of Food and Drug, Dr Bounxou Keohavong, told Vientiane Times the ministry has given approval to Tongmeng Lao Pharmaceutical and Food Co Ltd. to manufacture molnupiravir, which is produced under the brand name Molavir in Laos.
The company has GMP standard certification and will produce the pills for distribution to pharmacies across the country.
The department says Molavir will be produced by Tongmeng to the same standard of Molacovir as at the State Enterprise Pharmaceutical Factory No. 3.
Molacovir and Molavir are recommended for people aged 18-65 who have mild or moderate symptoms of Covid-19 and are in the early stages of the disease. They must not show signs of pneumonia or oxygen shortage and 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.
The production of Molavir is part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid, Dr Bounxou said.
The Ministry of Health is advocating a reduction in the cost of the drug to ensure that everyone has access to essential treatment.
The ministry has set the wholesale and retail price of Molavir produced by factories in Laos at 350,000 to 400,000 kip for one course of treatment and has instructed that it not be sold for more than 400,000 kip.
More and more people are requesting Molacovir, including people on low incomes.
The State Enterprise Pharmaceutical Factory No. 3 is able to produce the drug in sufficient quantities to treat 2,000 to 3,000 people.
The ministry has asked the factory to increase production and provide Molacovir for low-wage patients at an affordable price under the ministry’s universal health coverage policy.
The factory has the capacity to increase production but says the government would have to subsidise the production cost by paying 50 percent of the purchase price of the chemicals needed, or paying 30 percent of the cost of one course of treatment, which is 400,000 kip for a five-day course.
However, the government does not have the financial resources to subsidise the factory’s production costs.
Tongmeng Lao Pharmaceutical and Food Co., Ltd. began manufacturing Molacovir in early March under a pilot programme, as advised by the Ministry of Health, in response to complaints by the public about lack of availability.