Merck’s Covid-19 pill close to regulator nod in India, may cost Rs 500-Rs 1,000
Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The oral Covid-19 pill developed by US drug major Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics could be launched in coming weeks in the India market, with the full treatment course estimated to cost Rs 500-Rs 1,000.
The drug molnupriravir, a broad spectrum antiviral, has shown promise in international trials in halting the progression of Covid-19 in its early stages.
Last week, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the drug, recommending its use right after a positive coronavirus test and within five days of the onset of symptoms.
Sources in India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation told this newspaper that the regulator could give its verdict on the restricted emergency use of the medicine as early as this week as it is in the final stage of reviewing data from about 700 patients in India.
“This could pave the way for the launch of the oral Covid-19 pill in the coming weeks,” said a senior official.
Officials in the department of science and technology said they expect the drug to be priced in the range of Rs 25-50 per tablet. A patient would need to take 15-20 tablets over a five-day treatment course.
“We are hoping that for every patient a course of this drug may cost only about Rs 500-1000 which will be very affordable,” said a high ranking official.
Sun Pharma, one of the companies licensed to make the drug in India, on Thursday said that the firm will launch it under the name Molxvir at an “economical price.”
Eight companies including Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Natco, Hetero Pharma and Aurbindo Pharma have signed voluntary licensing agreements to produce generic versions of the drug and they have now applied for the REU.