6 June 2024

Thailand’s Medical Services Department signed a 500-million baht deal with MSD (Thailand) today (Thursday) to buy 50,000 courses of Merck’s Molnupiravir (Lagevrio) oral anti-viral medication for the treatment of COVID-19 infections.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who witnessed the signing at the Ministry of Public Health, said that treatment of people infected with COVID-19 requires effective medication and, to date, Thailand used Favipiravir and the herbal medicine, Fah Talai Jone.

Molnupiravir, which is manufactured by US giant pharmaceutical company Merck, has proved efficacious during clinical human trials, adding that the oral version will be administered to patients with moderate and severe symptoms, as well as to people at high risk.

Medical Services Department Director-General Dr. Somsak Akksilp said that Molnupiravir is currently in the process of seeking approval for emergency use from the US Food and Drug Administration and from the Thai FDA.

Each course of Molnupiravir medicine consists of 40 x 200mg capsules. A patient must take the 4 capsules twice per day 12 hours apart for five straight days.

First developed at Emory University, a molecule called NHC/EIDD-2801 was found to possess a potency against multiple coronaviruses. The molecule was later licensed to Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, a Miami-based biotechnology company, which partnered with Merck to accelerate the development.

In October, Merck and Ridgeback announced that Molnupiravir could reduce the chances that an infected person would need to be hospitalised by half. The UK became the first country to approve the drug on November 4th and authorization from the US FDA is expected in December.