Merck
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY/File Photo

Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will launch its generic version of Merck ‘s antiviral Covid-19 pill, molnupiravir, and price it at 35 rupees ($0.4693) per capsule, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday (January 4).

The overall cost for a patient treated with a 5-day course of 40 capsules of the generic drug, to be sold under brand name ‘Molflu’, will come up to 1,400 rupees ($18.77).

In comparison, the treatment with Merck’s pill in the United States costs $700.

“Molflu is expected to be available from early next week in pharmacies throughout (India) with particular focus on states with high caseload of Covid-19,” the company spokesperson said.

India last week gave emergency use approval to  along with two vaccines, as the country braces for a possible spike in coronavirus cases due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

With a view to turn India into a manufacturing hub, Merck has entered into licensing agreements with eight domestic drugmakers, including Dr Reddy’s, to make and supply generic versions of molnupiravir to over 100 low- and middle- income countries.

A total of 13 companies in India will make molnupiravir, the country’s health minister said last week.

Governments around the world have been scrambling to buy a similar but more effective antiviral treatment from Pfizer, while Merck’s pill has faced some setbacks after disappointing trial data.

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