COVID19: First antiviral pill available through GHS

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Merck’s anti-Covid oral pill Molnupiravir /Lagevrio 200mg is the first antiviral drug for COVID-19 available in Cyprus through the General Healthcare System.

Following a recommendation by the European Medicine Agency (EMA), the drug is being rolled out in Cyprus and is available free to GHS beneficiaries only at state hospital pharmacies.

The Health Ministry said the pill is available on the GHS with a doctor’s prescription.

Doctors eligible to prescribe the drug are GPs, specialists in infectious diseases, pneumologists, haematologists, oncologists, cardiologists, neurologists, kidney specialists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and geriatricians.

Molnupiravir is prescribed to patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 disease who do not need hospitalization.

It can be given within five days from the onset of symptoms or the test date (whichever occurs first).

Experts recommend its use only for people over 65 or those over 18 in a high-risk group.

High-risk groups include people with pre-existing chronic respiratory disease, severe pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonectomy, severe chronic renal failure or heart problems.

The drug should not be prescribed for children, nor should it be given to pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding.

Patients prescribed the drug will be able to obtain it from state hospital pharmacies Monday-Friday from 8 am to 2.30 pm, while on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays patients should make an appointment between the hours of 9 am and 12 noon, calling the nearest hospital at the following telephone numbers:

Nicosia General Hospital: 22-603000

Limassol General Hospital: 25-801100

Larnaca General Hospital: 24-800500

Paphos General Hospital: 26-803100

Famagusta Hospital: 23-200000

At this stage, at the hospitals in Polis and Troodos, the drug will only be available on weekdays.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently reviewing Molnupiravir, and a recommendation will likely be made by February.

It is administered based on a recommendation issued by the European Medicines Agency evaluating the intermediate data of the drug study available at the time of the examination.

The data from 775 people showed that Μolnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in people with COVID-19 who had a higher risk of serious illness from 14.1% in the placebo group to 7.3% in the group receiving the placebo.

The study did not include people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19.