The cabinet has approved the Ministry of Public Health's proposal to buy 50,000 courses, equal to 2 million pills, of molnupiravir, the world's first oral medication for the treatment of Covid-19, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Tuesday.
Mr Anutin said the medication would be used as a reserve for drug security and to treat patients with Covid-19 symptoms in prioritized groups, which included people over 60 years of age and patients with any of seven underlying conditions - chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, neurovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or obesity.
He said the anti-viral medication favipiravir would be given to patients in the early stage of Coid-19 with mild symptoms.
"A course of favipiravir costs 1,000 baht or more, if imported, while a course of molnupiravir costs about 10,000 baht. Doctors will decide how to use them.
"In making a purchase we must think about quality. We are not stingy, but every baht spent must be worth it," Mr Anutin said.
He did not say when the order for molnupiravir would be placed or when he expected the order would be filled.
Molnupiravir, developed by the US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is the first antiviral medication for Covid which can be taken as a pill rather than injected or given intravenously. It is being marketed under the brand name Lagevrio.