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Medical department purchases 50,000 courses of Pfizer drug for Covid


The Medical Services Department on Thursday signed a contract to purchase 50,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid drug with Pfizer Thailand for Covid-19 patients in risk groups.

Department director-general Somsak Akkasilp took part in the online contract signing with Deborah Seifert, country manager of Pfizer Thailand and Indochina.

Somsak said the purchase contract was signed after his department had been in close contact with Pfizer since August last year and the department had placed an order for the drug on January 19. The Paxlovid drug was approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration on January 28.

Somsak said his department needed a Cabinet nod first before it could sign the contract on Thursday.

The drug is scheduled to reach Thailand in early April before it will be allocated to provincial hospitals around the country, Somsak said, adding that the inspector-generals of public health zones will decide how to allocate the drug to hospitals in their zones, depending on their respective situation.

The director-general said that clinical tests have shown Paxlovid has helped prevent 88 per cent of patients from dying or being hospitalised after they were administered the drug within five days of their first symptoms showing up.

Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir and nitonavir drug. A patient will be given four nirmatrelvir pills and two nitonavir pills a day for five consecutive days to complete a course of treatment.

Somsak said not all people infected with Covid-19 virus would be given Paxlovid. He explained that up to 70 to 80 per cent of people can fight the virus without having to take any drug.

Studies showed that 50 per cent of people who have been infected with the Omicron variant would not show any symptoms and only 50 per cent of those who have symptoms need medicine, he said.

Doctors would prescribe necessary drugs to patients depending on their health record and vaccinations. For example, those who have been fully vaccinated and who have no comorbidities will receive only a Thai herb.

Somsak said the guidelines for prescribing Paxlovid will be similar to the guidelines for administering Molnupiravir, which the department had purchased earlier.

“According to the guidelines for Molnupiravir announced on March 21, Paxlovid will be given to the elderly, to those who have comorbidities and those who have not been vaccinated or have been given only one shot of vaccine,” Somsak said.

Seifert said the Paxlovid has been approved in over 50 countries around the world and 1.5 million courses have been distributed. By July 30, the distribution will reach some 30 million courses of treatment, she added.

Published : March 24, 2022

By : THE NATION