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India is likely to approve Emergency Use Authorisation for the Merck drug Molnupiravir in a few days time. Molnupiravir is an oral drug designed to block the replication of various RNA viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The medicine is meant for adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 or hospitalization. The medicine can be taken at home.
Dr Ram Vishwakarma, Chairman of the Covid Strategy Group, CSIR calling the drugs the "final nail in the coffin of the virus by science", said, "I think Molnupiravir will be already available to us. Five companies are sitting with the drug manufacturer... I think any day we will have approval of Molnupiravir"
Five Indian pharmaceutical companies had partnered to conduct a clinical trial of Merck (MSD)’s experimental antiviral candidate Molnupiravir to treat mild Covid-19 in an outpatient setting. The partners are Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Torrent Pharmaceuticals.
Molnupiravir works by disrupting the virus’s reproduction. Once the virus gets inside the body’s cells, it replicates its genome, which is made not of DNA but RNA (ribonucleic acid). These replicated genomes are then formed into complete virus particles which burst out of the cell and continue to spread around the body. However, the molecules of molnupiravir are absorbed by virus-infected cells, where they are converted into a defective version of the building blocks of RNA. So, when the virus tries to replicate, the resulting virus particles have defective genetic material and can no longer reproduce. This means that the viral load should remain low, which reduces the risk of serious disease.
In India, it might initially cost "2000 to 3000 or 4000 rupees per cycle of treatment, then it will come down to 500 to 600 or 1,000 rupees.