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People denied Covid antiviral purchases in HCMC

By Le Cam   February 25, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
People denied Covid antiviral purchases in HCMC
Phan Van Su (R) is denied from buying molnupiravir at a drugstore in HCMC as he lacked the necessary documents to purchase the drug, February 24, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Le Cam
Many people have been denied purchases of molnupiravir pills at drug stores in Ho Chi Minh City since they couldn't "satisfy requirements."

Phan Van Su, 39, brought with him an image of a quarantine notice issued by medical authorities on his phone to buy the pills for his relatives at a drugstore in Thu Duc City on Thursday.

Su showed the image to an employee of a Long Chau drugstore, but was denied his purchase. The employee said due to the limited number of molnupiravir pills, the drug would be prioritized for Covid-19 patients with either documents to confirm their infection, or a prescription.

"I just want to buy a molnupiravir box to send to my relatives who caught Covid-19. I don't intend to hoard or resell it," Su said.

Tran Thi Thanh Trang, 24, visited another Long Chau drugstore to purchase molnupiravir pills for her sister. She showed a prescription for the drug, but it lacked a doctor’s signature and the date for when the prescription was written. As she also lacked documents from local authorities to confirm Covid-19 infection, Trang was unable to buy the antiviral and had to resort to other drugs to treat symptoms like fever and coughing.

"This morning my sister had medically declared herself to ward authorities, but she only received back a positive Covid-19 test and no document to confirm her infection. Therefore, I could not buy Covid-19 drugs for her," Trang said.

A representative of the first Long Chau drugstore said the shop had been allocated five boxes of molnupiravir by its owner, FPT Long Chau Company, on Wednesday afternoon. Each box is sold at VND250,000 ($11). About 10 customers came to purchase them, but only one box was sold on Thursday morning as the buyer had a legitimate document to confirm Covid-19 infection, the representative said.

The other Long Chau drugstore also sold only one molnupiravir box within the same period, despite having over 30 people come by to purchase the drug.

"As molnupiravir has only recently been sold, many people aren't aware of how to use them, as well as the requirements to purchase them... The store would only sell molnupiravir when there’s either a prescription or a document to confirm infection from local authorities," according to a representative at the store.

Several pharmacists said many people lack documents to confirm their infections as local authorities are currently swamped and could not issue the documents in time. Many simply had inappropriate prescriptions.

"They beg us to sell them the drugs, but we could not go against our policies. It’s hard on us too," a pharmacist at a drugstore in Tan Binh District said.

Molnupiravir pills produced in Vietnam would cost up to VND12,500 each, the national drug administration revealed Wednesday.

Three companies: Boston Pharma, Mekophar Chemical Pharmaceutical and Stellapharm would produce the drug in Vietnam. Their products are the first Covid-19 antivirals approved in the country.

Molnupiravir inhibits the replication of certain viruses by introducing errors in their viral RNA replication. It would result in "an accumulation of errors in the viral genome leading to inhibition of replication," also known as viral error catastrophe.

The drug reduces viral load in the early stages of Covid-19, reducing risks of severe symptoms and death.

 
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