22 May 2024

Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today (Thursday) approved the Public Health Ministry’s proposal to procure 50,000 courses of the anti-viral Molnupiravir drug, made by US pharmaceutical company Merck. 

CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said that the proposal will be submitted to the cabinet for a final approval. He did not, however, give any details on the price of the drug nor on when they are to be delivered to Thailand.

Merck has recently been accused of profiteering by overcharging for Molnupiravir capsules, priced at US$712 for a five-day course.

According to an analysis by Melissa Barber, of Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, and Dzintars Gotham, of King’s College Hospital in London, the production cost of Molnupiravir capsules is US$1.74 per unit, or US$17.74 for a five-day course.

Dean Baker, a senior economist at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, noted that the US$712 price is what the US government paid for the drug and it amounts to a roughly 4,000% mark-up.

Dr. Taweesin said that the CCSA also acknowledged the Public Health Ministry’s vaccine procurement plan for this year, totalling 127 million doses, including 62.5 million doses of China’s Sinopharm and US-produced Moderna vaccines.

He said that it is expected that at least 50% of the population in Thailand will have been vaccinated within this month, as well as 70% of those living in COVID-free areas.