PH awaiting results of clinical trial of oral drug vs Covid

The Philippines is closely monitoring the clinical trial of Molnupiravir, an investigational drug that is slated to be the first oral antiviral medication for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“That would be a big help once findings show that it is effective for the patients,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday.

Merck announced on Friday it will ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for an anti-coronavirus drug that reduced hospitalizations by nearly 50 percent in clinical trials.

If approved, Molnupiravir, a joint effort between Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, would become the first orally taken antiviral medicine taken for Covid. In a Phase 3 study, 7.3 percent of patients taking Molnupiravir were hospitalized, while 14.1 percent of those taking a placebo had to be admitted to the hospital.

There is no clinical trial of Molnupiravir in the Philippines but Vergeire said the government has been open to using investigational drugs, so long as there is evidence to prove its safety and efficacy.

Maria Rosario Vergeire added that the Covid-19 Living Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) task force, led by various experts and key public health stakeholders, regularly studies potential Covid-19 drugs to make sure the Philippines and manufacturers could immediately negotiate once official results are out.

“As for Molnupiravir, this drug is still on trial stages so we will wait once the official results have been published,” Vergeire said in Filipino.

If approved, Merck said it expects to produce 10 million treatment courses by the end of 2021 and more doses in 2022.

In June, Merck agreed with the US government to provide 1.7 million courses of Molnupiravir upon the issuance of an EUA or FDA approval.

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