While Merck's oral drug Molnupiravir has already been cleared by the United Kingdom to treat COVID-19, a Paraguayan laboratory has filed for its emergency registration in the South American country, Doctor María Antonieta Gamarra, head of the Health Surveillance Directorate (Dinavisa) confirmed.
The Health Ministry official also explained no request had been received from the original developers of the medicine, but only from a national manufacturer requiring an emergency registration.
She added the request would be evaluated and additional information on the drug has already been asked for.
“At the moment there is a national laboratory that has already obtained the raw material and is going to manufacture it; we are going to be evaluating that to make it available to the public as soon as possible,” Gamarra said.
Health Minister Julio Borba admitted data on Molnupiravir had been first received almost two weeks ago, after which it was sent to Dinavisa for a more thorough report for a final ruling.
Getting Molnupiravir on the drug list depends on a number of factors, Borba explained. What we do not want is to remain as a caboose with this particular drug, he added.
A decision could be reached as early as this week, the minister pointed out.
Molnupiravir will begin to be administered to Covid patients in the United Kingdom shortly.
Doctor Carmelo Doldán, a specialist cobsulted by the Asunción daily Última Hora, explained that the antiviral is very similar to Oseltamivir, a drug used to treat influenza. What this product does is block an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate, which should prevent the disease from developing into a more serious case.
A dose of Molnupiravir is said to cost some US $ 700, but according to Doldán, by the time the drug goes generic, it will cost between US $ 10 and 15 each dose.
Doldán also explained more than a hundred low- and middle-income countries have adopted similar emergency registrations.
Molnupiravir can be even used before a positive test, provided there are symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Pfizer is also working on an oral treatment for the disease, while the antidepressant Fluvoxamine has been reported to show good results in preventing severe forms of COVID-19.