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Manila receives 40k capsules of Merck's COVID-19 pill 

The Manila City government on Monday received the initial batch of 40,000 capsules of molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19.

The 40,000 capsules were delivered to the Sta. Ana Hospital where there is sufficient storage space for the antiviral drug, according to a press release issued by the office of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. 

Several boxes of molnupiravir were distributed on Tuesday to the Manila COVID-19 Field Hospital in Luneta at a ceremony led by Moreno.  

“We should always be ahead of COVID infections. We were the first to purchase remdesivir and tocilizumab. And now, this wonder drug molnupiravir, tayo din ang naunang bumili (we were the first to buy). I will continue to listen to science,” Moreno, a presidential aspirant, said.

“[Kung] may awa ang diyos [at] ginawa niyo ‘kong pangulo, [at sa] assumption of office may nadiskubreng gamot, I will acquire. I will move heaven and earth to acquire that for Filipinos,” he added in a "24 Oras" report.

Dr. Willie Ong, Moreno's running mate, said they are planning to secure supplies for other cures that are currently being studied.

“‘Yung mga susunod na gamot baka mas maganda pa itong Paxlovid, plus Ritonavir,” Ong said.

Data from interim clinical trials released last month indicated the drug developed by Merck & Co., Inc. could reduce by around 50% the chance of hospitalization or death for patients at risk of severe disease from COVID-19.

Healthcare firm Faberco Life Sciences Inc. made molnupiravir available in the country through the compassionate special permit (CSP) issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under the contract signed by the city government last month, each capsule of molnupiravir will cost P87.50. The pill will be given twice a day, for five days, to COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms in seven hospitals, including the Sta. Ana Hospital.

Faberco said that though molnupiravir is not yet available commercially, it has chosen RiteMed Philippines, Inc. to distribute it to the private sector, including hospitals and treatment sites, under compassionate use, which allows institutions to procure and distribute products under study or those awaiting approval for immediate use in emergency situations.—With Jiselle Anne Casucian/ VBL, GMA News