CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to ink deal soon to purchase COVID-19 pill

10/14/2021 07:53 PM
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Molnupiravir. Image from Merck
Molnupiravir. Image from Merck's website

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) Taiwan will soon sign a contract to purchase the drug molnupiravir, which its makers say significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) disclosed Thursday.

Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said in a legislative hearing that molnupiravir is an experimental oral antiviral drug that was developed to treat influenza and has shown to be highly effective against COVID-19.

At a news briefing later in the day, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the drug, which was developed by Merck, aslo known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, will be used in Taiwan mainly to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

Patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 might even be allowed to take the medicine and quarantine at home, Chuang said, adding that the details of the procurement contract have not yet been finalized.

In a statement issued on Oct. 1, Merck said the phase 3 trial of molnupiravir showed that it reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by around 50 percent in adult COVID-19 patients.

Merck has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the pill.

As Taiwan is in the process of signing a procurement deal with Merck, it will be able to obtain the antiviral drug immediately, if the FDA grants EUA in late November, as expected, Chen had said earlier.

(Bu Chen Chieh-ling, Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao)Enditem/pc

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