What you need to know about Covid-19 pill Molnupiravir 2
Covid-19 treatment pill Molnupiravir. Reuters file photo

What you need to know about the Covid pill that can potentially reduce risk of death

The pill can potentially prevent hospitalization and death among high-risk Covid-19 patients, according to clinical study
ANCX Staff | Oct 23 2021

Aside from Covid-19 vaccines, there’s another scientific discovery that can possibly arm us in the fight against the coronavirus—and we’re not talking about Ivermectin. We mean the oral pill people are talking about called Molnupiravir.

The antiviral drug is known to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk, unvaccinated Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms by 50 percent. This is according to the global study conducted by Florida-based biotechnology company Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which developed the drug. 

The Philippines was one of the countries that participated in the study, said Dr. Beaver Tamesis, president of the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). The study was conducted among high-risk patients—meaning those who are obese, those with diabetes, cardiac and pulmonary problems, and those 60 years old and above.

Tamesis said a clinical trial for Molnupiravir is scheduled in the Philippines by second week of November, and will include COVID-19 patients’ household members and other close contacts. 


How molnupiravir works

According to the researchers of Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, Molnupiravir works on a molecular level. When the antiviral drug enters the cell, it is converted into RNA-like building blocks and incorporates itself into the genome of the virus. “If this genetic material is further replicated, defective RNA copies are produced and the pathogen can no longer spread,” the research said. 

Claudia Höbartner, a professor of chemistry at the University of Würzburg, also revealed that Molnupiravir appears to trigger mutations in other RNA viruses, preventing the viruses from spreading further. “The compound could potentially be used to treat a whole spectrum of viral diseases,” she said.

“So far it seems to work with the coronavirus,” said Tamesis. “We’ve also been looking at it for influenza, for Ebola. Potentially we have a broad spectrum anti-viral here. If this drug merits full marketing authorization, I would suggest the Philippine government should be looking at it as part of the COVID preparedness response for the future.” 

Unlike Remdesivir which is administered by injection, Molnupiravir can be prescribed like other pills and taken at home. A patient will be given 800mg of Molnupiravir per day for an estimated period of five days. For better efficacy, the antiviral medication should be given during the early stage of infection or during the first 5 days of symptoms. 

There were reports that the Molnupiravir treatment course would cost around $700 or about P35,000. But Tamesis is confident it would cost lower.

Faberco Life Sciences Inc. is the official distributor of the Molnupiravir 200mg capsule in the Philippines. In an article published by the Inquirer, Faberco said it has partnered with RiteMed Philippines, Inc. in the distribution of the anti-COVID oral drug to hospitals, medical institutions, and treatment sites.