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Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Egyptian Drug Authority approves Merck antiviral pill

The Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) has approved Merck’s antiviral covid-19 pill Molnupiravir for emergency use, making Egypt the first country in the Middle East and Africa to do so, the agency announced yesterday.

Five local companies to manufacture Egypt-made Molnupiravir: Five companies have been licensed to produce the pill in Egypt, while several other companies could be given licenses at a later stage, the EDA said. Local firms have already produced around 25k packets of the drug, and have the materials at hand to manufacture 150k more, according to a Health Ministry statement.

Rameda is the first confirmed manufacturer: Rameda Pharma has already received EDA approval and begun manufacturing its generic version of the med, Molnupiravir Rameda, which is set to be distributed to hospitals before the end of 1Q2022. Molnupiravir Rameda will retail at EGP 625 per 40 capsules with an initial dose of 200 mg.

Eva Pharma is also on board, according to Sky News Arabia, which carries an interview with company director George Maher, who says that the meds will be exported to Arab and African countries, as well as made available for domestic use.

Hikma Pharma is also in the mix: London-listed Hikma Pharma was among 27 companies globally to sign an agreement with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool last week, which is designed to promote access to the medication among 105 developing countries, the MPP said. The agreement allows the company to produce the finished pills via its Egyptian and Jordanian units

How is this being done? The MPP signed a licensing agreement with Merck allowing it to ink sublicense agreements with other companies, which in turn are permitted to produce the raw materials and the finished product.

Molnupiravir is arriving just in time for the news that covid could bypass antiviral meds: Researchers and US health regulators are bracing themselves for signs of resistance and mutation from covid-19 that could allow it to bypass antiviral pills like molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Health Ministry reported 1,651 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,603 the day before — the fourth-highest daily tally on record, as the omicron variant sees case numbers pushed to highs not seen since June 2020. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 411,749 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 28 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 22,396.

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