A makeshift Covid-19 hospital is set up at the Pulo Gadung industrial estate in East Jakarta by a collaboration of business communities. (Joanito De Saojoao)

Distribution Permit Issue Puts Molnupiravir Shipment on Hold


DECEMBER 23, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesia will not receive antiviral drug Molnupiravir until January at the soonest due to a lack of distribution permit from the Drug and Food Supervisory Agency or BPOM, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Indonesia has placed orders for up to a million doses of the oral drug against Covid-19 developed by US pharmaceutical company Merck & Co Inc. and expected delivery before the end of the year.

“The producer cannot confirm when they will be able to deliver the drug pending distribution permit from the BPOM,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said.

“We assume to receive them in January.”

A government team visited New York last month to have talks with Merck executives on Molnupiravir supplies and the possibility of opening a drug factory in Indonesia.

Molnupiravir is intended for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 to reduce risks of hospitalization or death.

But the latest clinical trial data suggested that the pill was less effective than previously believed. The trial indicated that Molnupiravir can reduce hospitalizations and deaths for high-risk Covid-19 patients by 30 percent, according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, France became the first country to scrap order for Molnupiravir and instead announced the plan to purchase Paxlovid, another Covid-19 antiviral pill developed by Pfizer.

The clinical trial indicated that Paxlovid can reduce the risks of hospitalizations and deaths by 89 percent.