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Batch of Merck's antiviral drug Molnupiravir arrives in PH via local distributor
ABS-CBN News
Posted at Nov 18 2021 02:37 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2021 03:47 PM
Faberco Life Sciences/Handout
MANILA (UPDATE) - A shipment of Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill Molnupiravir arrived in the Philippines on Thursday through a local pharmaceutical firm, as the drug awaits regulatory approval in the country. 
Philippine pharmaceutical firm Faberco Life Sciences said it was appointed to distribute Molnupiravir in the Philippines by one of Merck's manufacturing licenses. The pill is an investigational drug used for COVID-19 treatment.
In a statement, Faberco said they chose RiteMed Philippines, Inc. to distribute the investigational drug to private hospitals and medical institutions that have secured a compassionate use permit from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 
READ: Faberco, RiteMed seek to bring Merck’s anti-COVID drug Molnupiravir to PH
The FDA had earlier granted compassionate use permit for Molnupiravir in 31 Philippine hospitals. 
The drug is not yet commercially available, but Merck, the American firm that developed it, already filed for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country last week, the FDA said.
“We are anticipating the approval from the Philippine FDA in the coming weeks," Faberco founding member Vinay Panemanglor said. 
Merck's Molnupiravir has yet to get approval from US authorities. 
Faberco, though, did not mention how many courses or pills arrived in the country. Earlier reports said the Philippines is expecting to receive some 300,000 courses from different local manufacturers. 
READ: Philippines to receive 300,000 courses of Merck's COVID-19 pill
But in a message to ABS-CBN News, Faberco's communications head Neil Maristela said the shipment is enough "for now," noting that there would be more deliveries soon. 
Maristela also refused to disclose the number of courses delivered for the day. 
"Substantial quantities lang for now and [we] assure the public of consistent and continuous arrival of shipments," the officer said. 
Each pill is estimated to cost P100 to P150 pesos, pharmaceutical firm JackPharma, which will distribute the drug locally, told Reuters. 
Molnupiravir cut the rate of hospitalization and death by 50 percent in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill COVID-19 patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released earlier this month cited in a Reuters report.
The pill would be the world's first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19 if it gets regulatory approval.
— With reports from Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News and Reuters
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Merck applies for emergency use authorization for antiviral drug Molnupiravir
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Molnupiravir shipment to arrive in PH next month
Read More:  Molnupiravir   COVID19   coronavirus  Merck   Food and Drug Administration   FDA   Faberco Life Sciences  
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