Ministry tells GPO to stock up on Covid drug before Songkran


The Public Health Ministry has asked the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) to procure 75 million extra pills of the Covid-19 antiviral drug ahead of the Songkran holidays.

GPO deputy director Sirikul Methiwirangsan said the ministry had asked the GPO to buy 110 million pills of Favipiravir late in February and 80 million pills have been distributed to provincial public health medical centres for handling out to Covid-19 patients.

Sirikul said the GPO would gradually distribute the remaining 30 million pills until all the 110 million pills were distributed to provincial hospitals nationwide.

The ministry expects infections would surge during and after the long Songkran holidays, so it asked the GPO to stock up another 75 million pills.

Sirikul said the GPO has in turned ordered 50 million more of Favipiravir pills and 10 million Molnupiravir pills. She said the GPO has yet to choose between Favipiravir or Molnupiravir for the remaining 15 million pills.

Dr Thongchai Kiratihattayakorn, deputy permanent secretary for Public Health, insisted on Tuesday that the ministry has enough supplies of antiviral drugs for treating Covid-19 patients.

As of Monday, the ministry had distributed 22,877,678 Favipiravir pills to 13 public health zones nationwide and about 2 million pills were administered to patients a day.

He added that the current stock of Favipiravir pills would be able to treat patients for 10 days.

The deputy permanent secretary said some hospitals have reported inadequate supplies of the drug because of technical issues related to the online ordering system.

Thongchai explained that during the past one or two weeks, the number of patients in certain areas had surged, resulting in more use of the drug and the hospitals there could not fill online orders in time.

Thongchai reiterated that not all infected people would need Favipiravir or other antiviral drugs.

He said statistics from the fourth, fifth and sixth public health zones showed that only 26 per cent of the infected people had been administered Favipiravir and 52 per cent were simply given painkillers and anti-cough pills, while 24 per cent were given the "fah thalay jone" herb.

The deputy permanent secretary said even the elderly who have received booster shots would not need Favipiravir if they show no symptoms.