Pharmac has negotiated an agreement with supplier Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) to purchase the antiviral molnupiravir. It will be used to treat New Zealanders with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, subject to the treatment gaining regulatory approval in New Zealand by Medsafe.
“Getting vaccinated is the best defence against COVID-19. But we are pleased that we have secured an additional treatment to help those who become unwell,” says Pharmac’s Chief Executive Sarah Fitt. “The signed agreement is for an initial supply of 60,000 courses, giving Kiwis another line of defence against the virus.”
“Our agreement is subject to molnupiravir getting Medsafe approval for use in New Zealand,” says Sarah. “Shortly thereafter, New Zealand will start receiving the treatment.”
“MSD recently announced trial results showing that molnupiravir considerably reduced hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19. While these are interim results, they are very promising,” says Sarah.
The unprecedented nature of the pandemic, and the ongoing health risks posed by COVID-19, has meant Pharmac is proactively engaging global pharmaceutical companies to secure access to safe, effective COVID-19 treatments in New Zealand.
“We have changed the way we operate, using separate funding allocated by Government, to make sure that New Zealand can access new COVID-19 treatments,” says Sarah. “COVID-19 is a unique health crisis and for this reason we are doing things differently.”
“This is not the only new COVID-19 treatment we are working on. We are moving quickly to secure a range of new COVID-19 treatments for New Zealanders.” says Sarah. “At this stage, we cannot disclose other medicines we are considering, or the pharmaceutical companies we are engaging with, due to the confidential nature of negotiations.”