No shortage of Favipiravir pills
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No shortage of Favipiravir pills

GPO says kingdom has 84 million in reserve

A public health official shows anti-viral Favipiravir pills for Covid-19 patients.
A public health official shows anti-viral Favipiravir pills for Covid-19 patients.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) on Saturday said the country is not facing shortages of anti-viral Favipiravir pills for Covid-19 patients.

Sirikul Methivirangsan, deputy director of the GPO, was reacting to a message posted on the Rural Doctor Society (RDS) Facebook page earlier saying several hospitals are facing shortages.

The pills are in short supply as the number of Omicron cases continues to surge, the RDS said in its post.

However, Ms Sirikul said there are currently 24 million Favipiravir pills being reserved by the GPO, and 60 million more being produced, meaning the GPO now has a total of 84 million pills to be distributed to GPO service units across the country.

She said that apart from these batches, a number of Favipiravir pills are being reserved at some GPO service units.

The GPO began producing Favipiravir pills in September, and access was relatively easy, the RDS said.

When the number of infections caused by the Delta strain declined in October, the country had more than enough, prompting the Public Health Ministry to allow anyone who tested positive for Covid-19 to have access to them, the RDS added.

According to the RDS post, recent shortages are so severe that several hospitals only had a few left for patients who need them, including the elderly.

It said the shortages forced hospital staff to clarify to patients why they would not be able to receive the pill.

In other news, the Public Health Ministry will provide outpatient care for Covid-19 patients starting on Tuesday, on top of home and community isolation care, according to a government official.

Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said Covid outpatient care will be an additional service, and current medical services for patients isolating at home or receiving treatment in community isolation facilities will remain intact.

"Outpatient care will be provided for patients who cannot access the two systems," he said. "It will be an alternative service to be available at certain respiratory infection clinics."

Patients will get diagnostics, medication and advice on how to self-isolate at home, he said, adding the new initiative's details and criteria are being discussed with the Royal College of Pediatricians of Thailand, among others.

Dr Kiattiphum said outpatient care for Covid-19 patients is now possible as 90% of infections are caused by the Omicron variant, with most patients showing mild or no symptoms.

He said the introduction of outpatient care is part of a plan to downgrade the status of the spread of Covid-19 as endemic this year.

"Outpatient care will be available at every hospital from March 1 because coverage for Covid-19 patients remains unchanged under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients scheme," Dr Kiattiphum said.

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