Malaysia to buy Covid-19 antiviral pills

Molnupiravir has been shown to reduce hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients by 50 per cent.
Molnupiravir has been shown to reduce hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients by 50 per cent.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASAI NEWS NETWORK): The Malaysian Health Ministry has agreed to buy Covid-19 antiviral pills for use in Malaysia.

Malaysian Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali told Parliament on Thursday (Nov 11): "The government, through the Health Ministry, has agreed to purchase 150,000 treatment packages of molnupiravir (antiviral pill)."

He added: "This is preparation for its use here once approval is given by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency."

He said the oral medication has been shown to reduce hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients by 50 per cent.

On Nov 4, Britain became the first country in the world to approve the use of the antiviral Covid-19 pill developed by United States-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Datuk Azmi also spoke about the drug ivermectin.

He said the ministry's clinical trials concluded that other than giving patients an upset stomach, there were no significant differences between those given ivermectin and those treated using Covid-19 standard care treatment.

"The clinical trials were carried out involving 500 patients at 20 hospitals and Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centres who were given the medication over a five-day period," said Dr Azmi.

"Based on safety analysis, those taking ivermectin had diarrhoea three times higher compared with those under standard care," he added, when responding to a supplementary question raised by MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.

Dr Azmi informed Parliament that Malaysia's findings on the effectiveness of ivermectin in preventing serious Covid-19 cases following recent clinical trials would be published in medical peer-reviewed journals.

He added that following the findings, the use of ivermectin would be allowed only under supervised clinical trials here.

Dr Azmi said a second clinical trial to determine the efficacy of ivermectin for close contacts of Covid-19 patients will be carried out next month.

"It will be administered to close contacts of Covid-19 patients to determine if they will get infected," he added.