Molnupiravir, the antiviral drug that got emergency use approval for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 in the country has been rolled out by some pharmaceutical firms at a cost ranging between Rs 1500-1600 for a five-day course. The stiff competition among the firms has ensured that the costs are affordable for patients.
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will launch molnupiravir capsules 200mg under its brand name Molflu across India. Dr. Reddy’s Molflu will be priced at Rs. 35 per capsule with 10 capsules contained per strip, and the total course of 40 capsules over 5 days costing Rs 1,400 making it an affordable treatment option available to patients, a company spokesperson said.
Molflu is expected to be available from early next week in pharmacies throughout the country with particular focus on states with high caseload of Covid-19 . Earlier this year, Dr. Reddy’s entered into a non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with Merck Sharpe Dohme (MSD) to manufacture and supply Molnupiravir to India and over 100 low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration in the Indian pharmaceutical industry, a Dr. Reddy’s-led consortium of pharma companies collaborated to jointly sponsor, supervise and monitor the Phase III clinical trial in India, and presented its findings to the Subject Expert Committee (SEC). Last week, Dr. Reddy’s received emergency-use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to manufacture and market the oral antiviral drug Molnupiravir capsules 200mg for the treatment of adult patients with Covid-19, with SpO2 >93% and who have high risk of progression of the disease including hospitalisation or death.
Molflu will be manufactured at a USFDA-approved facility, and Dr. Reddy’s has made adequate capacity preparations to ensure that it is able to help patients in need. Meanwhile products of some companies like Hetero, Cipla and others are currently available and other firms are set to roll out within a week , Debmalya Mitra, Partner, Milton Healthcare LLP- authorised distributors for a set of companies that are marketing molnupiravir.
There are 13 Indian pharmaceutical companies, including Torrent, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Natco, Mylan, and Hetero, that will manufacture the oral pill. The drug is approved for limited use in an emergency situation for the treatment of adult patients with a high risk of Covid-19 progression. Cipla Ltd’s product under the brand name`Cipmolnu 200′ is now in the market in a bottle pack of 40 capsules of 200 mg each. The MRP is Rs 2000 while MRP of Hetero is Rs 2450. Molnupiravir, developed by MSD and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has been approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 patients who are at high risk of developing severe disease.
“The drug has been launched in the market and is being prescribed by physicians to patients who are in need of the treatment. We have adequate manufacturing capacities and a solid distribution mechanism in place to ensure speedy access to this effective treatment pan India,” said a Cipla spokesperson.
According to Dr Parikshit Prayag, an infectious diseases specialist with Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital, trials in unvaccinated patients have shown a reduction in hospitalisation with this antiviral pill. “However we will need more data to study how it works in vaccinated patients,” Dr Prayag said. Among the Omicron patients treated here , the specialist said that presently symptomatic treatment was being given for runny nose, headache and body ache.