Dr Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services (DMS), has confirmed that Thailand will move forward with procuring 2 million tablets of the Molnupiravir COVID-19 treatment drug. The move comes amid reports that France has cancelled its own order of the anti-COVID pill due to unsatisfactory test results.
Last week, France became the first country to publicly cancel its Molnupiravir procurement with Merck, citing disappointing trial data. It instead made an order for a similar drug being produced by Pfizer.
Merck released data in late November indicating that Molnupiravir was considerably less effective than initially expected. According to clinical trials, the drug reduces hospitalizations and fatalities among high-risk cases by just 30-40%.
The Thai Ministry of Public health signed a contract with Merck for 50,000 courses of the Molnupiravir pill to be delivered in January.
Dr Somsak noted that the contract with Merck specifies that Thailand can reconsider its order based on decisions by other countries and their usage of the drug.
He added that the latest reports show the United Kingdom actually increased its Molnupiravir order to 1.75 million courses on December 22 while Japan ordered an additional 1.6 million courses on December 24.
The director-general also pointed out that the situation surrounding the antiviral drug is still in flux. (NNT)