Beximco Pharmaceuticals today announced the launch of the world's first generic molnupiravir, an oral antiviral drug for symptomatic Covid-19 recently developed by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in Bangladesh.
Beximco Pharma's branded generic version of molnupiravir will be marketed as Emorivir.
Nazmul Hassan MP, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, said, "Further to our launch of the first generic remdesivir at the start of the pandemic, the launch of a generic version of molnupiravir, the world's first oral antiviral drug to treat Covid-19, is another example of Beximco Pharma's ability to rapidly respond to make affordable treatments available to patients suffering from Covid-19."
He further said, "This is a great achievement for the company and one which we believe could play an important role in combating the pandemic, especially in low- and middle-income countries where access to vaccines has been limited."
The company earlier got emergency use authorisation by the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), the regulatory authority in Bangladesh.
Molnupiravir is the world's first oral product to treat symptomatic Covid-19, which was approved by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 4 November 2021. Molnupiravir is currently under review by several other regulatory authorities, including the European Medicines Agency and the United States Food and Drug Administration.
As an oral treatment that can be administered at home, molnupiravir has the potential to have a significant impact on the treatment paradigm for Covid-19. For instance, it may reduce the need for infected patients to visit medical facilities, therefore also reducing the risk of infecting others.
Data published by MSD suggest that it may cut the risk of hospitalisation and death by half, with 7.3% of molnupiravir patients hospitalised after 29 days compared to 14.1% of patients who were treated with placebo. Molnupiravir works by interfering with the replication of virus. This prevents it from multiplying, keeping virus levels low in the body and therefore reducing the severity of the disease.
With the launch of a branded generic version, Beximco Pharma is helping to broaden access and the reduce cost of this potentially life-saving treatment option, which could bring significant benefit to unvaccinated or immunosuppressed patients.