MANILA - The city government of Manila has procured experimental COVID-19 pill molnupiravir, with the initial 40,000 capsules delivered this week, it said Tuesday.
In a statement, the local government said the first batch was delivered to the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila due to the "sufficient storage space" there.
"Several boxes" were also given to the Luneta-based Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital, it added.
"We were the first to purchase Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. And now this wonder drug Molnupiravir, tayo din ang naunang bumili. I will continue to listen to science," Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said in a speech.
ACQUISITION 'BASED ON DEMAND'
The medicine, said to be effective against mild/moderate COVID-19 cases, may also be acquired by non-residents of the capital city, said Domagoso, a 2022 presidential aspirant.
"This is a universal problem and it has to be approached inclusively," he said.
"Why not [give it to those living outside Manila] kung buhay naman ang pinag-uusapan natin (if we are talking about saving lives)?"
Domagoso said the city government might procure more molnupiravir capsules should there be a demand for the drug.
"We will acquire based on demand. Whatever we have right now is enough to address X number of weeks of possible growth," he told reporters on the sidelines of his "listening tour" in Binangonan, Rizal.
"Ang commitment ko, mabuhay lang kayo. Ang pera, mawawala. Ang pera, kikitain. Ang importante lang, mabuhay yung tao."
(My commitment is for you to live. Money will come and go. What is important is a person's life.)
NOT YET COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE
Manila City was able to get each molnupiravir COVID-19 pill at P87.50, through local pharmaceutical firm Faberco Life Sciences, Inc.
Faberco is one of the authorized distributors for Merck, which developed the drug, through a licensee manufacturer.
"It will be given twice a day, for 5 days, to COVID patients with mild and moderate symptoms in 7 hospitals, including the Sta. Ana Hospital," the city government said.
The drug is still being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use.
It is not yet commercially available in the country and it is so far only accessible through a compassionate special permit to at least 30 hospitals nationwide.
Last week, the first shipment of molnupiravir arrived in the Philippines through Faberco.
ALSO AVAILABLE VIA ROBREDO'S OFFICE
Aside from Domagoso, molnupiravir is also available through Vice President Leni Robredo's E-Konsulta platform.
It was possible through a memorandum of agreement with QualiMed Health Network.
The Philippines is part of the global study of the experimental antiviral pill, early trials of which showed it could halve the risk of dying or being hospitalized for COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness.
The Phase 3 Clinical Trial for molnupiravir in the Philippines will take place at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.