Mumbai: Despite the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Balram Bhargava saying there were ‘major safety concerns’ about the anti-viral drug Molnupiravir, the Maharashtra government added this drug to its treatment protocol for symptomatic Covid patients with comorbidities on Thursday. Doctors in the city have differing opinions regarding this drug currently being used as a possible treatment option for Covid patients. While some doctors are getting good results in patients being treated with Molnupiravir, another section of doctors believe it should be given to those who are in actual need or else, it will lead to post-Covid complications.
“Symptomatic patients with comorbidities – chronic lung disease, immunocompromised state, immunosuppressive drugs, chronic liver disease and others, patients with mild symptoms who do not have other diseases and complain of low fever, dry cough, diarrhoea and weakness, can be given Favipiravir or Molnupiravir. However, patients on oxygen therapy should not be administered Molnupiravir, nor should it be administered to ANC, PNC and prospective mothers,” read the revised treatment protocol issued by the state health department.
The antiviral recently got emergency use approval for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in India, having been launched on Monday at Rs 1,399 for a full, five-day course, making it one of the cheapest antiviral coronavirus therapies during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, days after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the country’s drug regulator, cleared Molnupiravir as the first antiviral Covid-19 pill, ICMR Chief Balram Bhargava on Wednesday said there were ‘major safety concerns’ with the drug and that it could cause teratogenicity, mutagenicity, cartilage and muscular damage.
Addressing a press conference, Bhargava said, “First of all, the US has approved it based on use in only 1,433 patients with a three per cent reduction in moderate disease when given in mild cases. However, we have to remember that this drug has major safety concerns. More importantly, if given to a man or a woman, contraception will have to be maintained for three months as the child born during that period could have problems with teratogenic influences,” he warned. Molnupiravir is not included in the national taskforce treatment protocol, nor has the WHO included it or the UK, as of now.
A doctor from the SevenHills Hospital said that the drug worked well in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The medicine was only being administered to the patient after proper health assessment.
“I have administered this drug to some patients and they have shown good improvement in their health,” he said. However, he said, this medicine could not be given to all patients as it could lead to post-Covid complications.
Dr Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology and Critical Care, Global Hospital, said Molnupiravir is a five-day course and patients recover on the third day after being administered the drug, which clearly shows it is effective. But patients should not demand Molnupiravir, as it is only given to those who do not respond to other medicines.
“I have administered it to 25 patients and all have shown improvement. But we have to conduct a complete health assessment and only after should it be administered, as it is given on the basis of the symptoms,” Dr Chafle said.