BANGKOK/JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thailand’s health minister said on Friday the country planned to develop the anti-viral pill molnupiravir to combat COVID-19 infections amid rising infections driven by the Omicron variant.
The molnupiravir COVID-19 treatment pill for adult patients at risk of developing severe illness was jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The Southeast Asian nation intends to join other countries in the region also planning to make versions of the drug including Bangladesh and India.
“For molnupiravir, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization has plans to co-develop (this drug) with the Chulabhorn Research Institute,” Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told a news conference.
“A committee will research and produce the reactants, which will be additional support for future events,” he said.
Separately, Indonesia’s health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Friday the country also planned to develop molnupiravir in partnership with pharmaceutical company PT. Amarox Pharma Global starting in April or May.
Indonesia approved molnupiravir for emergency use this week and 400,000 pills have arrived.
Thailand has ordered 50,000 courses of molnupiravir from Merck and was still in discussion with Pfizer for 50,000 courses of its drug Paxlovid.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Editing by Ed Davies)