Coronavirus Pandemic

Australia to buy new oral Covid drug if regulator approves, says PM

Filed on October 4, 2021
Pharmaceutical company Merck shows capsules of the experimental antiviral drug Molnupiravir. Photo: AFP

Clinical trials have shown that the treatment is effective against all Covid-19 variants

Australia will purchase 3,00,000 courses of the developmental oral treatment against Covid-19, Molnupiravir, if it is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.

Molnupiravir, developed by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is a new drug against Covid-19 in the form of a capsule. The clinical trials have shown that the treatment is effective against all Covid-19 variants and reduces the risk of being hospitalized or dying by half, according to the developers.

“If the medical experts at the TGA approve this treatment for use, it will join other Covid-19 treatments such as sotrovimab and remdesivir, which are already available to Australian doctors to help treat those with Covid-19,” Morrison was quoted as saying by The Australian.

Morrison also noted that the vaccination rate in Australia is rising, so the government is now closely following COVID-19 drugs currently in development and is working on ensuring the supply of promising treatments.

“Vaccines and new treatments like this will boost our National Plan to safely reopen Australia and keep Australia safely open,” the prime minister added.

Molnupiravir prevents the virus from copying its genetic code and reproducing it. The TGA will begin reviewing the drug this year, but the treatment will not be widely adopted until the beginning of 2022. The price for the treatment has not yet been released.

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