Lloyd to soon start producing local Molnupiravir
A local manufacturer will start producing this month an antiviral drug that is currently being imported to treat mild and moderate cases of the COVID-19 infection, the Board of Investments (BOI) said, adding that the pills will be available to the public “at the soonest time.”
Lloyd Laboratories Inc. will locally produce 400 milligram-capsules of Molnupiravir in its manufacturing facility in Bulacan, a close to P24-million project that was recently given tax breaks such as an income tax holiday.
The plant can produce around a million capsules a year. “Amid the steep surge of COVID-19 cases exacerbated by the emergence of new variants, it is a crucial and urgent step to produce oral therapies locally to reduce hospitalization, and for those who will be hospitalized—to lessen the period of hospitalization, and to prevent the death of Filipinos who contracted the virus,” BOI Chairman and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
The BOI said the suggested retail price of the locally made Molnupiravir was P65 per pill, much lower than the P100-P150 per pill for the imported counterparts.
The BOI said in a statement on Monday that the Lloyd Laboratories was using the technology from a pharmaceutical company in India.
“Lloyd Laboratories acquired a direct technology transfer on Molnupiravir production from Optimus Pharma, an integrated pharmaceutical organization in Hyderabad. The laboratory reported that it intends to make the product available locally at the soonest time,” the BOI said.
The BOI approval means the project can enjoy tax breaks under the government’s Create Law, or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act. This develops as the public deals with another surge in COVID-19 cases, likely brought about by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Lloyd Laboratories also applied for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) with the FDA to make the drug more widely available. Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry “coordinated with and received a commitment from Department of Health Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III], without prejudice to the FDA action, to look into the CPR application of Lloyd Laboratories.”
It remains to be seen, however, if the soon-to-be available local supply will be enough to meet the growing demand. Nevertheless, Ceferino Rodolfo, managing head of BOI and trade undersecretary encouraged other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit.
“We invite other pharmaceutical companies to look at this model and how we can replicate it in order to further fill-in the gaps not only in our fight against the pandemic but also in providing more affordable critical medicines and health products to Filipinos. The project’s approval is, of course, subject to relevant rules and regulations and whatever flexibilities afforded by our laws,” Rodolfo said. INQ
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