Thailand will go ahead with its order of 2 million tablets of the Covid-19 magic pill Molnupiravir despite news that France has cancelled its order due to disappointing test results, Dr Somsak Akksilp, Department of Medical Services director-general, said on Monday.
Reuters reported on December 22 that France has cancelled its order with Merck following disappointing trial data and has opted instead for a similar drug being produced by Pfizer.
France is the first country to announce publicly that it is not buying the drug after Merck released data in late November suggesting that the drug was markedly less effective than previously thought. Clinical trials showed that the drug reduces hospitalisations and deaths among high-risk individuals by only 30 per cent.
Thailand’s Public Health Ministry signed a contract with Merck to procure 50,000 courses of Molnupiravir anti-Covid pill. The shipment is expected to land in January.
“The contract specifically says that Thailand can reconsider the order based on other countries’ order and usage of the drug,” Somsak said.
“Latest information shows that the United Kingdom on December 22 increased its Molnupiravir order to 1.75 million courses, while Japan ordered another 1.6 million courses on December 24.
“The situation regarding the antiviral drug is constantly changing, while the department will focus primarily on the safety of patients,” said Somsak.
“Merck & Co had initially claimed that the Molnupiravir has over 70 per cent efficacy in treating Covid-19 patients during its mid-stage human trials. The efficacy in the final stage however has dropped to 30-40 per cent, which means that the drug still works.”