Thailand and Indonesia unveil plans to develop molnupiravir Covid-19 pill

The molnupiravir Covid-19 treatment pill was jointly developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK/JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Thailand's health minister said on Friday (Jan 14) the country planned to develop the antiviral pill molnupiravir to combat Covid-19 cases amid rising infections driven by the Omicron variant.

The molnupiravir Covid-19 treatment pill for adult patients at risk of developing severe illness was jointly developed by US-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The South-east Asian nation intends to join other countries in the region also planning to make versions of the drug including Bangladesh and India.

"For molnupiravir, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has plans to co-develop (this drug) with the Chulabhorn Research Institute," Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told a news conference.

"A committee will research and produce the reactants, which will be additional support for future events," he said.

Separately, Indonesia's Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Friday the country also planned to develop molnupiravir in partnership with pharmaceutical company PT. Amarox Pharma Global starting in April or May.

Indonesia approved molnupiravir for emergency use this week and 400,000 pills have arrived.

Thailand has ordered 50,000 courses of molnupiravir from Merck and was still in discussion with Pfizer for 50,000 courses of its drug Paxlovid.

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