LIGHT shines at the end of the dark COVID-19 tunnel as MedEthix, a wholly owned Filipino company importing and distributing a wide range of healthcare products since 2009, is bringing to the country Molnupiravir, the new oral antiviral pill for mild COVID-19 cases.
MedEthix is the first importer in the country to secure, on behalf of the first four grantees, the Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines for Molnupiravir.
Meanwhile, JackPharma Inc., a pharmaceutical company founded in June 2015, will distribute the new drug to frontliners and other healthcare professionals.
Molnupiravir was developed by Emory University and MSD (Merck), an antiviral pill that will allow patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms to be treated early in an outpatient setting.
MSD has inked voluntary in-licensing deals with Indian pharma manufacturers to supply Molnupiravir to low and middle-income countries, including the Philippines.
As the first local importer to be granted CSP as early as September, MedEthix is likely to be the first to distribute the new drug to Filipinos through its partnerships with hospitals, the company said during its formal announcement about this development to the Philippine media.
“Living our principle to heal always and in all ways, we at MedEthix are actively looking for ways to help Filipinos have a better chance at fighting the virus. So, we took the chance to apply for a CSP once MSD announced promising initial clinical results for Molnupiravir. We are honored to bring this treatment drug to the country as early as November and we assure Filipinos that we are going to offer the same level of quality as with our other products and services,” Monaliza Salian, MedEthix co-founder, president and chief executive officer, told the media during the virtual press conference.
COVID-19 cases in the country exceeded 20,000 cases per day in the past weeks as reported by the Department of Health (DOH). Although the number has since been on the decline and the majority of these cases are mild amid vaccination efforts, concerns about health and safety and uncertainty about the future are still palpable.
Molnupiravir: What we know so far
Molnupiravir works by introducing copying errors during viral RNA replication. The drug enters the COVID-19 virus and alters it to become harmless. Even if the virus replicates, it is no longer deadly.
Results of clinical trials sponsored by MSD licensee Aurobindo Pharma in India showed that 81 percent of the 1,200 mild cases taking Molnupiravir had negative RT-PCR results on the fifth day of treatment. This is compared to 17 percent of cases given only Standard of Care. All the patients included in the study were treated at home, which lessens the stress of finding a hospital that can accommodate COVID-19 patients.
Molnupiravir comes in a 200mg capsule with a recommended regimen of 800mg to be taken twice daily for 5 days or as prescribed by a physician. It comes in a bottle of 40 capsules, which is the entire dose.
“JackPharma is pleased to be part of the alliance as the first to bring Molnupiravir to our healthcare frontliners and the Filipino patients. With Molnupiravir, the treatment of COVID-19 has shifted — patients can now be treated at home without the need to go to the hospital,” Meny Hernandez, JackPharma president, in his address to the media.
MedEthix and JackPharma will further discuss how Molnupiravir works in the treatment of mild COVID-19 during meetings and webinars with healthcare frontliners scheduled in November.