‘Govt should act early to buy new Covid drug’

A pharmacists’ association said on Monday that a new drug for Covid-19 could help relieve the burden on hospitals if Hong Kong sees another outbreak of infections, adding that the government should act early to ensure the city is able to procure the medication.

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong has welcomed the Hospital Authority’s plan to buy 500 courses of molnupiravir – the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 developed by a US drug maker.

Interim clinical trial results suggest the pills can cut the risk of hospitalisation by half.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, the society’s president, William Chui, said although Hong Kong has had no local Covid cases for some time, it’s a good idea for the government to approach the drug company early, as other countries are expected to compete for the new medication.

“This is a good start. I don’t think the government should wait and see because it would be too late as many countries already started to procure the new drug,” he said.

But University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said although the interim results were encouraging, trials for the drug were still incomplete.

He said the government should adopt a cautious approach and wait for more information on the drug.

Ho stressed that getting vaccinated was still the safest and most effective way to prevent complications and deaths arising from Covid-19.