The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it allowed for the first time the use of a pill to treat COVID-19 in the Philippines.
Molnarz, a brand of the anti-COVID drug Molnupiravir, was given an emergency use authorization or EUA in the Philippines, FDA director general Eric Domingo said.
Previously, Molnupiravir, can only be used on "compassionate use" grounds, limiting its availability compared to an EUA.
Molnupiravir can also be availed at the Office of the Vice President through an agreement was signed with QualiMed Health Network.
Domingo said Molnarz comes in a 200 mg capsule that is only indicated for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. It can only be given to adults 18 years old and above with risk factors for developing severe illness such as senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.
Molnarz should be taken twice a day for five days, and should be given to the patient within five days from the onset of symptoms. The drug cannot be given yet to pregnant women and lactating mothers pending data on its safe use for this group of patients, Domingo added.
Molnupiravir, manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck, is used for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, and was shown to reduce hospitalization for newly infected patients by 50%. Philippines received its shipment on Nov. 17, the first in Southeast Asia.