Merck’s oral antiviral medicine Molnupiravir/Lagevrio, will be available for prescription from Monday, 17 January, according to the Ministry of Health in Cyprus.

According to EMA, Lagevrio is an oral antiviral medicine that reduces the ability of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) to multiply in the body. It does this by increasing the number of alterations (mutations) in the virus’ genetic material (known as RNA) in a way that impairs the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to multiply. Lagevrio is being developed by Merck Sharp & Dohme in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The medicine, is currently not authorised in the EU.

The oral treatment will be available through the General Health System to patients who are confirmed COVID cases either through PCR or Rapid Antigen Testing and are mild to moderate, do not require hospitalisation and are within five days from the date of the onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test and carry at least one risk factor.

According to the Health Insurance Organisation, before prescribing Molnupiravir, physicians need to complete a questionnaire that will be available on the General Healthcare System portal which ensures that the pill will be prescribed only to patients who fulfill the criteria set out by the Health Ministry ad-hoc committee.

They should also outline the risk factor related to the patient.

According to the protocol, among the high-risk factors considered are pre-existing lung disease, severe chronic renal failure, heart arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease, those who have undergone angioplasty or stent implantation in the last 12 months, bypass in the last 12 months and recent stroke or established neurological problems.

Eligible are also patients who had recent organ transplants, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The HIO has noted that Molnupiravir will be available only through the state hospital pharmacies.

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