Olivier Veran has confirmed that molnupiravir, a very expensive anti-covid treatment developed by the Merck laboratory, would be administered from December 1 to people at risk showing symptoms.
Vaccination and barrier gestures will not be the only weapons against the fifth wave of Covid-19. Olivier Véran announced on Thursday that the country would strengthen its arsenal of treatment against Covid.
“The situation will change from the beginning of December, we have the arrival of a new drug, an antiviral drug called molnupiravir and we have a lot of hope in this drug, believes the Minister of Health. This is a drug in tablets that can be prescribed by general practitioners and will be available in pharmacies. “
This drug developed by the American laboratory Merck will be reserved for people at risk likely to develop severe forms of the disease and showing symptoms. The people concerned will therefore be the over 65s as well as those suffering from chronic diseases.
Olivier Véran recalls the data communicated by the Merck laboratory after clinical tests carried out on 800 patients who were treated with molnupiravir.
“For people at risk who have symptoms of Covid, this drug if it is prescribed in the first five days, clinical studies show that it can reduce by two the risk of being hospitalized, assures the Minister of Health . France will be the first European country to benefit its citizens. “
600 euros per dose
France ordered 50,000 doses of this anti-covid pill at the end of last October, which should be delivered to pharmacies in the coming days. It would be a very expensive drug. While France has not disclosed the price paid for its order, the United States has ordered 3.1 million doses of these tablets for a total cost of $ 2.2 billion, or about $ 700 per dose (600 euros). A high cost which would however be profitable compared to the financial and human costs of hospitalization.
“It’s a cost-benefit calculation, explains Frédéric Bizard, an economist specializing in social protection and health issues. If we look at the cost of hospitalization -1500 euros per day – we see that the 600 euros unit cost of this drug is of interest to States. “
The American drug is not yet administered in the European Union, but the United Kingdom approved its use in early November. A drug that is not intended to replace vaccination according to the Merck laboratory.
“Molnupiravir is a complement to the vaccines and devices already deployed in the world against the Covid-19 pandemic”, assures Doctor Dean Li, president of Merck laboratories.
This antiviral treatment is not the only one that will be used in France to treat the disease.
“For several months we have had a treatment based on antibodies directed against the virus, an injectable treatment which requires hospitalization and which reduces the risk of developing serious forms,” recalled the Minister of Health. More than 7,000 French people have received this type of treatment. “
And according to Olvier Véran, other treatments should arrive in the coming months based on antibodies or antivirals and “which will strengthen our arsenal against Covid.”