Sales of Molnupiravir tablets, used in the treatment of COVID-19, have increased in recent weeks. Several sources claim that patients have been given them without a prescription. A business that has become lucrative for some.
Used in the treatment against COVID-19, Molnupiravir appears to be popular. According to various sources, an increase in turnover has been observed for some time. This is also confirmed by Siddique Khodabocus, president of the Pharmacy Council. “There is a fairly strong recovery in the sales of Molnupiravir compared to May. Pharmacies say they get a lot of prescriptions for this drug,” he says.
However, sources claim that patients manage to obtain it without a prescription signed by a doctor. That is a dangerous practice, warns Dr. Soobaraj Sok Appadu, national COVID-19 coordinator. “Molnupiravir is like a prescription-only antibiotic,” he says.
Thus, some pharmacies would ignore these regulations in order to sell their stock and increase their turnover, keeping several interlocutors. “While most pharmacists respect the regulations, there are bad apples that do not honor the profession,” explains one pharmacist on condition of anonymity.
Taking such a drug over the counter, according to Dr. Sok Appadu have serious side effects. “Regardless of the product, any drug can have adverse effects on the body. Therefore, it is necessary to respect the dosage and the advice of the doctor. †
Molnupiravir can cause an allergy and lead to serious reactions, including skin irritations, choking and tightening of the throat. It can also later induce resistance to viruses. The drug can also interact with other products, which is dangerous, Dr. Sock Appadu.
He adds that Molnupiravir is only used in patients who are COVID-19 positive and have symptoms of the disease. “It is an antiviral drug that is used in the treatment of this disease to reduce the replication of the virus, preventing it from multiplying and causing adverse effects,” he explains.
dr. Sok Appadu points out that Molnupiravir is available from the public health service upon presentation of a prescription from a doctor, who has considered multiple factors before prescribing the drug.
Siddique Khodabocus believes patients would not purchase a drug costing more than Rs 1,000 on average if they were not positive for COVID-19. “There are drugs classified as antibiotics and psychotropics that require a prescription to obtain.”
However, he says that Molnupiravir does not fall into this category, like most over-the-counter over-the-counter medications. “Even paracetamol should be sold on prescription, but there are no regulations requiring it,” laments a pharmacist on condition of anonymity.
For Siddique Khodabocus, controlling the sale of all drugs so that they are only sold on prescription would spark outrage among the population. “Especially when it comes to products intended for the treatment of patients with, among other things, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. †
He believes that the pharmacist is sufficiently qualified and able to dispense a medicine if he knows the patient well. However, Siddique Khodabocus would like to emphasize that he does not encourage the sale of Molnupiravir without a prescription. But he believes that there is a reality to be taken into account and that we cannot apply everything that is done abroad to Mauritius.
According to him, the Pharmacy Council wants to introduce the term ‘Prescribing Pharmacist’, so that pharmacists can prescribe medicines themselves to patients without having to consult a doctor. “After that, pharmacists would receive more advanced training. †
If sales of Molnupiravir have increased, does this mean there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases? dr. Sok Appadu clarified that the virus is still circulating and that there are still admissions at the New ENT hospital in Vacoas. But the Ministry of Health, according to official figures it provides, indicates that the number of cases has fallen in recent weeks.
More home self-test kits sold, Siddique Khodabocus says
Siddique Khodabocus notes that sales of home self-test kits for COVID-19 have soared in recent weeks. He attributes this increase to a possible relaxation within the population with regard to the health protocol.
He also notes that sales of sanitary masks are stagnating. According to him, this is a result of certain statements that have made it no longer mandatory to wear a face mask. “All of this may have contributed to an easing of barrier gestures,” he says. He asks the population to remain vigilant because the COVID-19 is still present.