Doubts raised over huge B6bn govt favipiravir order

Doubts raised over huge B6bn govt favipiravir order

File photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill
File photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

The Public Health Ministry is insisting on the continued use of favipiravir for Covid-19 treatment despite opposition from experts and a well-known activist.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Friday told media he still trusts the efficacy of favipiravir and insists it will continue to be distributed to Thai Covid-19 patients with the approval of academics.

This is being done despite a recent warning from Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a pulmonary disease expert at Vichaiyut Hospital, who said the medicine has no proven curative effect, referring to the Japanese government's decision to impose a ban on its use.

Mr Anutin added he did not care about the lawsuit brought against himself, the permanent secretary for public health, the director-general of the Department of Medical Services and the secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by activist Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, for purchasing favipiravir.

On Friday, Mr Srisuwan visited the Administrative Court to make a case that the medicine has not yet even been approved by the country which produces it due to safety concerns.

The cabinet has agreed to modify the medicine list under this year's budget, at the bequest of the Public Health Ministry, to purchase 17,065,457 favipiravir pills from 50,000 doses of molnupiravir.

The ministry is set to buy 254 million favipiravir pills during August-September and 300 million from October-December, worth 6 billion baht even though its maker has been ordered not to tout its efficacy against Omicron.

Moreover, he openly wondered why green chiretta, which does have a proven beneficial effect, is not being promoted more heavily.

Dr Rungrueng Kitphati, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, admitted that studies have found it hard to discern between natural recoveries and those assisted by favipiravir.

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