MANILA – Clinical trials are ongoing in the Philippines for an oral antiviral drug against COVID-19, a doctor said Friday.
Dr. Randy Castillo of the Lung Center of the Philippines said they have given mulnopiravir to 11 COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms.
“And so far, out of these 11 patients, 80 percent to 90 percent we’ve seen the potential of this drug that these patients were not admitted, were just managed at home,” he said.
He added, however, that patients who were given the drug were also taking antibiotics, antitussives, and other medicines.
Mulnopiravir, a new product developed by pharmaceutical giant Merck, fights the novel coronavirus by inhibiting its viral RNA replication.
“Sisirain nitong gamot na ‘to yung virus para wag na siyang magtuloy-tuloy na mag-replicate, so in effect it will not progress to a more severe disease in a mild to moderate patient,” he explained.
Castillo explained the Philippines is among 100 countries taking part in the phase 3 trials of the new drug.
The Philippines is expected to enroll 25 participants in the study, he said.
A patient can be included in the study if he exhibited mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms in the last five days. He must have tested positive for COVID-19, and must not be vaccinated against the virus.
The clinical trial will last until September or October, Castillo said.
He also explained that the patients who have received the drugs so far only reported mild side effects, if at all.
“But for our patients, we only see absent to mild side effects. So these could include nausea, headache, GI (gastrointestinal) upset, but these are all tolerable by the patients, and of course if we will weigh the benefits of the drug as opposed to the side effects, of course, what matters most is the potential of the drug to help the patient.”
Castillo said clinical trials late last year showed that mulnopiravir had no effect on severe COVID-19 cases.
Although it has the same effect as other drugs given intravenously, mulnopiravir’s biggest advantage is that it can be given orally, he said.
“It is more accessible, you don’t need to require the patient to be admitted,” he said.