BANGKOK—Thailand’s government is in talks with Merck & Co to buy 200,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 treatment, the latest Asian nation to lose its supply of the drug after lagging Western countries for vaccines. scuffles for.
Somsak Akssilp, director general of the Department of Medical Services, told Reuters that Thailand is currently working on a purchase agreement for an antiviral drug called mollupiravir.
South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia said they were also in talks to buy potential treatments, while the Philippines, which is running a trial on the pill, said it hoped its home study would allow access to the treatment.
All of them declined to give details on the purchase talks.
Molnupiravir tablets, designed to introduce errors in the virus’s genetic code, will be the first oral antiviral drug for COVID-19.
Many Asian countries are looking to shut down supplies as quickly as possible after being hit by tight supplies in their vaccine roll-outs this year, leaving them behind wealthy countries that have bought hundreds of millions of doses.
“We are now working on a purchase agreement with Merck which is expected to be completed by this week – we have pre-booked 200,000 courses,” Somasak said
He said the pills could arrive by December, though the deal would be subject to approval of the pills by the United States Food and Drug Administration and Thai regulators.
Representatives from Merck’s Thailand office were not immediately available.
Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand fell below 10,000 on Monday for the first time since mid-July. The country has so far delivered 55.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, completely vaccinating about 31 per cent of the population.
Merck has said it expects to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021. It has a US government contract to supply 1.7 million courses of mollupiravir at a cost of $700 per course.
The company has said that it is planning a tiered pricing approach based on the country’s income parameters.
In the Philippines, Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergier told a regular news conference on Monday that, “we see that we may have more access to this drug as we have this clinical trial counterpart.”
A spokesman for the European Commission said Brussels could begin joint purchases of the therapy for the bloc, a strategy similar to that used to buy COVID-19 vaccines, but had no specifics about Merck’s drug.
A German health ministry spokesman said the government was monitoring the development of new treatments, but declined to comment on whether Germany was planning to order Merck’s pill.
Reuters contributed to this report.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times