Covid-19: UAE in talks with leading company to introduce new anti-viral pill

It will be granted emergency marketing authorisation following its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration


Saman Haziq

Published: Sat 6 Nov 2021, 12:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 Nov 2021, 4:27 PM

Soon, the UAE may have a new anti-viral pill for treating Covid-19 infections.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) is in talks with Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), a leading biopharmaceutical company, to introduce supplies of the drug.

Molnupiravir, the world’s first oral anti-viral against Covid-19, is awaiting clearance from the European Medicines Agency.

Mohap and MSD discussed way to enhance cooperation and coordination regarding the regulations around developing a new Covid-19 pill, which will be granted emergency marketing authorisation in the UAE following its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The news was announced Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary of the health regulatory sector, during the inauguration of the MSD's scientific office in Dubai Healthcare City.

Originally developed to treat influenza, two pills of Molnupiravir are administered twice a day for five days. The drug, which derives its name from Mjolnir, (Thor’s hammer), fools the coronavirus but not human cells.

Sars-CoV-2 makes copies of itself by encoding instructions on human cell RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). When Molnupiravir is administered to the patient, it mimics segments of the RNA, causing genetic mutations that prevent the virus from developing. In short, it targets the virus while not harming human cells.

MSD is a US-based company specialising in the field of tumours, vaccines and infectious diseases.

Providing innovative medicines

Dr Al Amiri highlighted the ministry's keenness to strengthen the strategic partnership with global pharmaceutical companies to ensure early access to innovative medicines, provide the best treatment to patients and support the pharmaeconomics system in the UAE.

This, he said, is in line with Mohap's strategy to provide comprehensive and innovative healthcare to community members in accordance with the highest international standards.

"Our cooperation with the MSD with regards to the regulatory file for a new Covid-19 treatment falls within the pioneering efforts being made by the UAE in terms of the effective response to the pandemic, by attracting and providing innovative medicines proven to be effective and efficient, to be incorporated into treatment protocols," he said.

Al Amiri underlined that the UAE's strong commercial infrastructure and the organisational facilities provided to companies have made it an ideal destination for international pharmaceutical companies to operate and manage their operations across the region.

This also contributed to providing a package of attractive investment opportunities for pharmaceutical companies in a highly competitive atmosphere, he said.


Renan Ozyerli, MSD's regional president for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that early access to innovative and new medicines is what sets the UAE apart from other countries in the world and also reflects its leadership in healthcare.

He underlined that MSD is keen to join forces with Mohap to ensure the provision of innovative medicines and vaccines to patients. He noted that the company's new scientific office is a milestone in its efforts to save lives and improve patients' quality of life.

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