Optimus Pharma to launch anti-COVID pill Molnupiravir next week; all you need to know

Molnupiravir, developed by US-based biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with US pharma giant Merck, was approved for emergency use in India on Tuesday

FP Staff December 31, 2021 10:16:16 IST
Optimus Pharma to launch anti-COVID pill Molnupiravir next week; all you need to know

For Molnupiravir, Optimus Pharma will be supplying the finished formulations to Abbott, Lupin and JB Chemicals – apart from selling it under its own brand name Molcovir. (Photo: Optimus Pharma)

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this week approved Molnupiravir for restricted use in an emergency situation (EUA) in India.

Other homegrown pharma majors such as Strides Pharma, Dr Reddy's, Sun Pharma, Cipla, Hetero, Torrent and Optimus have already announced plans to roll out their generic versions of the drug shortly.

Brinton Pharmaceuticals on Thursday said it will launch its generic version of anti-COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir next week in India.

The company will introduce it in the domestic market under the brand 'Molviton', Brinton Pharmaceuticals said in a statement.

"Our brand Molviton would be available at all leading pharmacies and Covid treatment centres across the country by next week," Brinton Pharmaceuticals Chairman and Managing Director Rahulkumar Darda said.

He further said the pill will be available in 200 mg capsule form as patient compliance.

Each pack will have 40 capsules as the general recommended dosage is 800 mg twice a day for 5 days, the company said.

"Going forward, the company is also working on 400 mg and 800 mg capsules. It will be available at all leading pharmacies and COVID-19 treatment centres across the country," the statement said.

Let's take a look at the new COVID-19 pill

Molnupiravir is the first oral, direct-acting antiviral shown to be highly effective at reducing nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 infectious virus and viral RNA and has a favorable safety and tolerability profile.

Molnupiravir, developed by US-based biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with US pharma giant Merck, was approved for emergency use in India on Tuesday. The oral pill will be manufactured by 13 Indian pharmaceutical companies including Torrent, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Natco, Mylan and Hetero.

As per NDTV, this is a prescription-only pill, it will not be available over-the-counter. The cost of the full course is Rs 2,500 but this price could reduce overtime to Rs 400 per course.

In an exclusive interview with News18, Optimus Pharma chairman and managing director D Srinivasa Reddy said Molnupiravir is not a complex generic to manufacture and its price could be as low as Rs 40 or up to Rs 75 per tablet.

Going by the estimate of 13 drugmakers, the pill has been launched in 200-milligram strength. The recommended dose of Molnupiravir is 800 milligram twice a day for five days, which means, the entire treatment would require 40 tablets and the total cost would stand between Rs 1,600 and Rs 3,000.

As per conditions of the DCGI's approval, the drug should be sold by retail only under the prescription of medical specialists, reported PTI.

According to the conditions, the drug is not authorised for use in patients less than 18 years and for initiation of treatment in patients requiring immediate hospitalisation due to COVID-19.

However, if the dosage was initiated before hospitalisation due to COVID 19, it may be continued, sources told the news agency.

It is also not authorised for use for longer than five consecutive days and for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19 for pregnant women. The pill is intended to be taken twice a day for five days by people at home with mild to moderate Covid-19.

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