Thailand in talks with Merck for 200,000 programs of tablet for COVID-19 therapy

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BANGKOK, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Thailand’s authorities is in talks with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co (MRK.N) to buy 200,000 programs of the corporate’s experimental antiviral tablet for COVID-19 therapy, a Thai official mentioned on Monday.

Many Asian nations are scrambling to lock in provides of the potential therapy early after they lagged behind Western nations in COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, hit by tight provides.

South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia mentioned they’re all in talks to purchase Merck’s potential therapy, whereas the Philippines, which is working a trial on the tablet, mentioned it hopes its home research would permit entry to the therapy. learn extra

They all declined to supply particulars on buy negotiations.

Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services, advised Reuters that Thailand is presently engaged on a buying settlement for the antiviral drug, generally known as molnupiravir.

The molnupiravir tablets, designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, could be the primary oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

Interim scientific trials indicated it might cut back by round 50% the possibility of hospitalisation or demise for sufferers liable to extreme illness from COVID-19. learn extra

“We are now working on a purchasing agreement with Merck that is expected to be completed by this week … we have pre-booked 200,000 courses,” Somsak mentioned

He mentioned the tablets might arrive as quickly as December, although the deal could be topic to the tablets’ approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Thai regulator.

Representatives at Merck’s Thailand workplace weren’t instantly reachable.

Daily confirmed COVID-19 circumstances in Thailand fell under 10,000 on Monday for the primary time since mid-July. The nation has administered 55.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines thus far, absolutely inoculating about 31% of the inhabitants.

Merck has mentioned it expects to provide 10 million programs of the therapy by the top of 2021. It has a U.S. authorities contract to provide 1.7 million programs of molnupiravir at a value of $700 per course.

The firm has mentioned it plans a tiered pricing strategy primarily based on nation revenue standards.

In the Philippines, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire advised a daily information convention on Monday that, “We see we can have more access to this medicine because we have this clinical trial counterpart.”

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila, Hyonhee Shin in Seoul, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Himani Sarkar

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS