Doctors have different views on new drug

Molnupiravir, the antiviral drug for COVID-19, has hit the market within a week of receiving emergency use authorisation.
For representational purposes (Photo | AP)
For representational purposes (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: Molnupiravir, the antiviral drug for Covid-19, has hit the market within a week of receiving emergency use authorisation. There is mixed response among doctors in prescribing it to patients despite a sharp rise in cases.

The drug, originally developed by Merck and Ridgeback, is manufactured in India by 13 companies, of which Mankind Pharma has launched it at a cost of Rs 1,399 for the full course on Monday. At least five other drug makers are slated to launch their versions at the cost of Rs 1,400-Rs 2,500 in the next few days.

The medicine is for adults with comorbidities within five days of showing symptoms, having blood oxygen levels of 93% and a high-risk progression of the infection including hospitalisation or death. It is not authorised for use in patients less than 18 years and initiation of treatment in patients requiring immediate hospitalisation.

Anjan Trikha, head of critical care at AIIMS, New Delhi, said both patients and physicians should “exercise caution” in using it.

“The drug has been approved for emergency use but there are limitations and even though data from trials look fine, I would like to see more independent data,” said Trikha.

Dhruva Chowdhary, an intensivist in PGI, Rohtak, said he has prescribed the medicine to eight patients, including VIPs.

“Even though there is no specific data that molnupiravir is effective against Omicron, it has shown good potential in arresting disease progression by several other strains,” he said but cautioned that its indiscriminate use should be avoided.

At Medanta Hospital in Gurugram, critical care specialist Yatin Mehta said it may be used to lessen pressure on healthcare infrastructure.

“Only mild to moderate patients can be given this and only on prescription.”

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The New Indian Express