Rural doctors want end to govt monopoly on antiviral drugs

Rural doctors want end to govt monopoly on antiviral drugs

The Rural Doctors Society wants an end to the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation's monopoly on favipiravir and two other antiviral drugs, molnupiravir and paxlovid. (Photo: Komsan Jandamit)
The Rural Doctors Society wants an end to the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation's monopoly on favipiravir and two other antiviral drugs, molnupiravir and paxlovid. (Photo: Komsan Jandamit)

The Rural Doctors Society (RDS) wants the government to end its monopoly on antiviral drugs, to ensure the country has enough to treat Covid-19 patients and bring down the price.

The RDS has proposed that the monopolies on favipiravir, molnupiravir and paxlovid be scrapped and the private sector be allowed to import these antiviral drugs.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the RDS said, “The government gave a monopoly to the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) to produce and acquire favipiravir and kept selling its dream that Thailand will produce the antiviral pills and have enough supplies for hospitals. The monopoly was later extended to cover molnupiravir and paxlovid, resulting in a shortage of antiviral drugs to fight the coronavirus disease.

"In fact, there is no global shortage of the antiviral drugs, but Thailand is facing a shortage because of monopolies," The RDS said. "If the Public Health Ministry just issues an announcement ending the GPO’s monopolies, the problem will be instantly solved. 

"This is the same lesson as Covid-19 vaccines, that the government gave a monopoly to the GPO, causing a shortage of vaccine. Even though the private sector wanted to import Moderna vaccine, they could not do so because of the monopoly. Stopping monopolies will end the drug shortage."

The RDS said the GPO produced small amounts of favipiravir and shifted to importing the drug as it was cheaper. The RDS asked why the Public Health Ministry had to prohibit the private sector from importing the antiviral drugs.

Allowing private firms to import favipiravir and molnupiravir would eventually lead to cheaper prices and tackle the shortage, the society said.

The society earlier warned that the supply of favipiravir was running out amid rising Covid-19 infections.

On July 15, the GPO insisted that it was still making daily deliveries of favipiravir to public hospitals and health services nationwide.


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