Domestic pharma companies gear up to launch Merck’s Covid pill

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said 13 companies in India will manufacture the drug approved for restricted use under emergency situation for treatment of adult patients who have high risk of progression of Covid-19.

Molnupiravir, the first Covid-19 antiviral drug to get emergency use authorisation (EUA) on Tuesday, is set to hit the market in a week or two as more than a dozen Indian drug makers are in a race to launch the drug.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said 13 companies in India will manufacture the drug approved for restricted use under emergency situation for treatment of adult patients who have high risk of progression of Covid-19.

Six companies – Dr Reddy’sCipla, Sun Pharma, Emcure, Torrent Pharma and Viatris (earlier called as Mylan) – have formed a consortium to conduct a five-month collaborative trial to test the safety and efficacy of the drug.

All these companies have entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with Merck Sharpe Dohme (MSD) to manufacture and supply molnupiravir in India and to over 100 low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Hetero Labs, Optimus Pharma, and Strides Pharma are among other companies that have got necessary approvals to make molnupiravir. Most these firms said the drug will be available in the market in a couple of weeks.

Hetero said it has already begun the process for commercial rollout while Sun Pharma said it will launch the drug in a week’s time.

Dr Reddy’s and Cipla said they will soon launch 200 mg molnupiravir capsules across the country under the brand names Molflu and Cipmolnu, respectively.

The recommended dose of the Covid drug is 800 mg twice a day for five days.

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