Local drugmaker ready to make COVID treatment pill

January 14 ------ A local manufacturer said it could produce huge volumes of a pill used to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 infections, promising to do it as early as within a week of getting the necessary approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Top officials of Lloyd Laboratories Inc. told reporters last Thursday that it can make around a million capsules of molnupiravir per batch, using technology that came from a pharmaceutical company in India, with each batch taking a few days to finish.

Once manufactured, the capsules—which, according to the officials, will be priced 30 percent to 50 percent cheaper than competition—will be made available to hospitals and institutions, who would prioritize the supply for COVID-19 patients with comorbidities. The manufacturing capacity is already in place. All that’s left is to get the FDA’s approval for an emergency use authorization, or an EUA, which is issued for unregistered drugs and vaccines in a public health emergency. Company officials say the application process, which began sometime in October last year, is ongoing.

“It depends on the Philippines FDA. For example, if Philippines FDA gives the clearance by tomorrow, barely within five to seven days we can make the product available to the market,” said Dr. Chandra Shekhara Reddy Nagareddy, company vice president. This developed as the public continues to struggle with the pandemic, with the coronavirus evolving into other variants, while the government’s response measures, like contact tracing and testing, keep falling behind even after two years.

Lloyd Laboratories acquired a direct technology transfer for the production of molnupiravir from Optimus Pharma, a pharmaceutical company based in India. The company has actually already been supplying one local hospital with molnupiravir through a compassionate special permit, or CSP. The Board of Investments (BOI), which had recently approved Lloyd’s application for tax breaks, said that the company would be supplying Recuenco General Hospital in Metro Manila until November this year. The BOI said the approved project, located in Bulacan province, costs close to P24 million.

Christopher Bamba, company director for business development, said the hospital had so far only gotten around 600 out of the 10,000 capsules allotted for them under the CSP. He said it started supplying the hospital last week, noting that the orders are expected to increase over time. “If you have the EUA, then we will be able to distribute it to hospitals and even institutions without them applying for anything,” Bamba said during the interview, adding that the company “will be able to serve all hospitals who will require it.” When asked if the company had an estimate on the demand for the product, Bamba said the figure was still based on a rough computation. “Based on the active cases in the Philippines as of two days ago, 3.6 million capsules are required to treat at least 20 percent of the active COVID-19 cases,” he replied, noting that they can meet the demand.

Source: inquirer.net