Dr Reddy’s to launch generic COVID-19 Merck drug at about 50 cents a pill

The overall cost for a patient treated with a 5-day
course of 40 capsules of the generic drug, to be sold under brand name
‘Molflu’, will come up to 1,400 rupees ($18.77). In comparison, the treatment
with Merck’s pill in the United States costs $700.

“Molflu is expected to be available from early
next week in pharmacies throughout (India) with particular focus on states with
high caseload of COVID-19,” the company spokesperson said.

India last week gave emergency use approval to
molnupiravir along with two vaccines, as the country braces for a possible
spike in coronavirus cases due to the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

The South Asian nation reported 37,379 new COVID-19
cases on Tuesday, its highest since early September.

With a view to turn India into a manufacturing hub,
Merck has entered into licensing agreements with eight domestic drugmakers,
including Dr Reddy’s, to make and supply generic versions of molnupiravir to
over 100 low- and middle- income countries.

A total of 13 companies in India will make
molnupiravir, the country’s health minister said last week.

Governments around the world have been scrambling to
buy a similar but more effective antiviral treatment from Pfizer, while Merck’s
pill has faced some setbacks after disappointing trial data.

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