With questions being raised on the safety of Molnupiravir – an oral antiviral pill approved for treating Covid-19, Indian health experts have pointed out that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks it may have in the case of high-risk patients.

Developed by US-based drug company Merck, Molnupiravir is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration against Covid- 19. It is approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults with a high risk of progression to severe disease, mainly those with pre-existing (comorbid) conditions.

India has also approved the drug amid rising cases of new Covid variant Omicron in India. An expert panel of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation had recently approved the antiviral Molnupiravir for restricted use in emergency situations. The antiviral drug will be manufactured by 13 companies in India.

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However, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General, Balram Bhargava, said that the Molnupiravir is not included in the national Covid taskforce treatment as it has major safety concerns like teratogenicity, mutagenicity, muscle and bone damage among others.

“More importantly contraception has to be done for three months if this drug is given for male and female as the child born could be problematic with teratogenic influences,” he said at a press briefing.

Medical experts, on the other hand, have pointed out that the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks it may have in the case of high-risk patients.

But they say as there are very limited options of medicines to treat Covid patients, the new approved medicines should be given a try under strict treatment regime protocols.

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