The drug Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the Coronavirus and is believed to be the first oral antiviral drug for COVID-19. Merck is seeking approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration for the pill.
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Merck on Wednesday announced a supply and purchase agreement with Singapore that will ensure access to its investigational oral antiviral drug COVID-19, making Singapore the last Asian country to seek supplies.
The drug Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus and is believed to be the first oral antiviral drug for COVID-19. Merck is seeking approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration for the pill.
Singapore’s health ministry confirmed the deal, though it declined to comment on the number of doses purchased, citing trade sensitivities.
The ministry said molnupiravir would be available after Merck, also known as MSD Pharma in Singapore, submitted data to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and obtained approval for use in Singapore.
“Adding molnupiravir to our COVID-19 therapy portfolio ensures that we have a range of treatment options for different patient groups,” the ministry told Reuters in an email.
There is no clinical trial for molnupiravir in Singapore, he added.
Australia has also bought the Merck pill, while Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia are in talks to buy it. The Philippines is hoping that her trial of the pill would enable her to access it.
The rush to order the drug comes after interim clinical trial data released on Friday indicated it could reduce the likelihood of hospitalization or death for patients at risk of severe COVID-19 by about 50%.
Singapore reported a record 3,486 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday as it faces its biggest pandemic outbreak.
It has vaccinated 83% of its population against COVID-19.