23 May 2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Thailand’s anti-HIV drug Efavirenz developed by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization.

GPO chairman Dr Sophon Mekthon told a press conference on Friday that Efavirenz tablet (600 grammes) was Thailand’s first anti-HIV drug and the only medication from Asean which has passed WHO prequalification programme and incorporated into WHO prequalified list.

He said certification of Efavirenz by WHO means that, from now on, the drug can be marketed abroad to any countries interested to order the drug from Thailand.

Efavirenz, said Dr Sophon, can be administered to anyone infected with HIV since they were diagnosed positive with HIV or to people suffering from Aids.

He disclosed that the GPO was preparing to build a new factory estimated at 5.6 billion baht to produce Efavirenz tablets for widespread marketing, with construction expected to take off next year.

GPO deputy director Mukdawan Prakobwaithayakit, meanwhile, said Efalirenz was the end-product of 16 years of trial and error of the GPO to develop a qualified anti-HIV drug which can be accessed by all people with Aids at affordable prices.

She said that, previously, a bottle of anti-HIV drug cost 1,800 baht, but now the same medication can be available for just 180 baht.

She disclosed that, recently, a Caribbean country has invited Thailand to join an international bid to supply the country with Efavirenz.  The Philippines, she added, will buy about 300,000 bottles of anti-HIV drug worth about 51 million baht from Thailand.

Besides Efavirenz, Ms Mukdawan said  the GPO was seeking endorsement from WHO for its anti-HIV cocktail drug expected to be granted in the next two years.