China greenlights conditional import of US' antiviral molnupiravir for COVID-19 treatment
By Global Times Published: Dec 30, 2022 09:27 PM
China has greenlighted the conditional import of antiviral molnupiravir, known by the brand name Lagevrio, developed by US pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) for urgent use of COVID-19 treatment, the National Medical Products Administration said on Friday.
Lagevrio is a small-molecule oral antiviral drug that can be used for treating mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients who face risks of developing more serious symptoms: patients that are aged, obese or have chronic conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes or a chronic respiratory disease, according to a statement on the authority's website.
Patients should take the drug only under the guidance of doctors, it stressed.
In September, China's large vaccine producer Sinopharm and MSD signed a cooperation framework agreement in September, under which Sinopharm would be a dealer and exclusive commission agent of MSD's antiviral COVID-19 medicine in China.
Molnupiravir is one of the two most used oral COVID-19 treatments. The other is Pfizer's Paxlovid.
Recently, the first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment drug Paxlovid has become available at some community health centers in Beijing, but the amount is limited and prescription has to been made through close evaluation, Beijing-based health news outlet jksb.com.cn reported on Friday.
Paxlovid prescription requires proof that patients infected with COVID-19 were diagnosed within 5 days by a hospital of or above secondary level and the patient must be above 65 years old, have a chronic condition or be at risk of developing serious symptoms, the report said, citing a director of a community clinic in Beijing's Shijingshan district.
A staffer at a community clinic in Beijing's Dongcheng district confirmed to the Global Times on Friday that the clinic has received the drug and patients that are above 65 years old and have at least one chronic condition can buy the drug with a prescription.
"One person can only buy one box of Paxlovid at the price of 1,890 yuan (about $271), which is fully or partly covered by the country's medical insurance," the staffer said.
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