Health ministry proposes easing access to Molnupiravir for COVID-19 patients

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A physician at a drug store gives instructions on how to administer Molnupiravir to a customer. — Photo nhandan.vn

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health has proposed that pharmacies and drugstores be allowed to prescribe the antiretroviral COVID treatment drug Molnupiravir, under certain situations.

According to the proposal sent to the Prime Minister and the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, if patients have confirmation from a medical facility that they have tested positive for COVID-19, via PCR or rapid testing, they could be prescribed the drug.

Patients can also record a video of themselves performing the antibody test at home to prove a positive result.

The person in charge of prescriptions at the establishment can then determine the patient’s risk of severe disease, and prescribe the drug as appropriate. The patient, or those collecting it on their behalf, must sign an agreement which contains information about the patient, test date, test results and instructions on how to administer the drug, which is attached to a copy of the citizen identity card of the patient.

According to the ministry, Molnupiravir is a new drug, so it is necessary to continue to monitor the quality, effectiveness and safety of the drug during circulation.

Molnupiravir has been licensed for conditional circulation by the Ministry of Health for the next three years and is strictly controlled. Currently, people can only use Molnupiravir with a prescription from a doctor. Arbitrary use carries many risks from side effects, as well as the creation of new strains of viruses.

In the UK, the USA, Japan and some other countries where the emergency use of Molnupiravir has been approved, the drug must be prescribed, said the Ministry of Health.

As the number of COVID-19 infections is increasing and the majority of patients have mild or moderate symptoms, most are being treated and isolated at home.

However, due to the sheer volume of cases, medical workers are overloaded. They are unable to prescribe all patients the pill as per the regulation. Moreover, Molnupiravir is recommended to be used as early as five days from the onset of symptoms or a positive result.

In the context of rising cases and to ensure easy access to antiretroviral drugs, the Ministry of Health proposed several ways of dispensing Molnupiravir.

The proposal also requires pharmacies and drugstores to report on their business results from COVID-19 treatment drugs at 5 pm every day, to be sent to local health centres.

According to the ministry, this proposal only applies to oral antiretroviral drugs in areas with complicated disease development and high infection numbers.

Directors of health departments in cities and provinces will decide on the application of the plan, based on the epidemic situation.

In another development, the Drug Administration of Việt Nam has asked localities to strengthen inspections to detect and prevent the trade of COVID-19 treatment drugs at unlicensed business locations or online stores.

According to the drug administration, antiviral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 must be monitored strictly as per medical staff’s instructions, to ensure safety and effectiveness for users.

However, it has been reported recently that many individuals have been selling Molnupiravir on social networking platforms. This uncontrolled sale of drugs can affect patients’ health and the effectiveness of treatment.

Therefore, the Drug Administration of Việt Nam requests local health departments to strengthen the management of the purchase, sale and use of the treatment.

The health departments have asked for cooperation with authorities across the country in examining, detecting and preventing the trade of COVID-19 treatment drugs at unlicensed stores, particularly online ones.

Violations will be handled by the police, as regulated. — VNS

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