Thailand racing to stockpile Favipiravir ahead of possible second Covid-19 outbreak


Nuntakan Suwanpidokkul, director of the GPO’s Research and Development Institute. - The Naton/ANN

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN): the government is stockpiling almost 400,000 doses of Favipiravir – an antiviral drug touted as a treatment for Covid-19 – in case of a second-wave outbreak while pushing domestic manufacture to reduce reliance on imports.

“The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation [GPO] has imported 187,000 tablets of Favipiravir from Japan and China – 100,000 have been delivered to hospitals nationwide while the GPO has stored 87,000 as a reserve, said Nuntakan Suwanpidokkul, director of the GPO’s Research and Development Institute, on Tuesday (May 19).

“By the end of May we will receive another batch of 303,860 tablets that we ordered, which will increase our reserve to nearly 400,000 tablets, enough to treat patients in case there is a second wave of outbreak.”

Treatment of each Covid-19 patient requires up to 70 tablets of Favipiravir.

Nuntakan added that the GPO is researching techniques to efficiently manufacture Favipiravir domestically to reduce reliance on expensive imports.

“We expect the semi-industrial-level manufacturing to begin by early 2021, but it will take another year or so after that to perform clinical tests and register the drug. So, the domestic version of Favipiravir should be ready for public use by 2022, at the earliest.”

She revealed the GPO is working with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) on research into ways to synthesise raw materials to manufacture Favipiravir.

“The research is showing promising results and should complete within 3-6 months, after which we will be able to further reduce the cost of manufacturing the drug by using local raw materials, ” she added.

“The GPO is considering investing in more advanced manufacturing facilities to cope with high demand for Favipiravir in the future, as well as to manufacture other drugs for domestic consumption.” - The Nation/Asia News Network

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