Proposal to purchase anti-viral drug good move

Dr Helmy Hazmi

KUCHING: The proposal to purchase anti-viral drug Molnupiravir for Covid-19 treatment is a good move that would complement the vaccination programme, opines Dr Helmy Hazmi.

The Associate Professor attached to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak stated that it would also add another layer of protection for patients.

He was commenting on recent reports stating that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had requested local medical experts to discuss with pharmaceutical firm Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) pertaining to the purchase of Molnupiravir.

MSD recently announced that an anti-viral pill it is developing could cut hospitalisations and deaths among people with Covid-19 by half.

If authorised by regulators, Molnupiravir would be the first oral anti-viral treatment for Covid-19 compared to other current authorised drugs that must be delivered intravenously or injected.

“Since it is going to be an oral pill, there is a possibility that the medication can be prescribed at the primary healthcare level. As a result, early therapy can be given and if it works out successfully, it may reduce the number of patients admitted to hospitals,” he said on Tuesday (Oct 12).

“If antivirals are available, I believe that other important factors to consider include the patient’s ability to seek therapy early and the diagnostic turnaround time.

“The rationale for this is because antivirals perform better when used within a specific time frame. For instance, when it is given to a patient in a severe state, it is less effective.”

Although the results of Molnupiravir have yet to be peer reviewed, Dr Helmy expressed confidence that the competent authority would be wise to include a safety clause or an exit clause in the event that the drug’s effectiveness or safety is doubted.

“If the medicine is proven safe and effective, an early agreement is crucial so that we can obtain the medicine as quickly as possible. Such a move will give Sarawak an advantage.”