Self-medication with Molnupiravir can be dangerous: Experts

Self-medication with Molnupiravir can be dangerous: Experts
Posted 11 Jan 2022 | Source:

BENGALURU: Though the antiviral drug Molnupiravir has been kept out of the treatment protocol recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), doctors are warning patients that the drug, which is now available in the market, has “major safety concerns” and should not self-administered.  

Dr Ravindra Mehta, Pulmonologist with Apollo Group of Hospitals, has warned people against using the drug unless prescribed by a medical practitioner. “It is a new drug and it has specific indications and side-effects,” he pointed out.

Molnupiravir is a repurposed Covid-19 drug originally developed to treat influenza. It is meant for mild or moderately ill Covid-19 patients who are at risk of developing serious illness.  The manufacturing companies claim that the pill, if taken during the first five days after contracting the infection, has the 
potential to prevent serious illnesses.

However, doctors have raised concerns over the drug which is low in effectiveness and has some possible side-effects.  Indian Council of Medical Research director Dr Balram Bhargava had recently said that the drug was found only 30% effective in trials, much lower than what the company had indicated earlier. Also, there have been concerns over its mechanism— small-molecule antiviral prodrug incorporates itself into the RNA of the virus, inducing mutations with the objective of hampering replication. But this also has the risk of introducing mutations which can make the virus stronger and more dangerous.

Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant (Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine), Aster CMI Hospital, says, “It is clearly mentioned that the drug is not recommended for pregnant women and a urine pregnancy test is needed before administration in women of  child-bearing age group. The clinician should be very clear as to when and which group of patients should be using the drug and what variant they are targeting.”

“If a drug isn’t safe for use, the Drugs Controller General of India, the body involved in pharmacovigilance, wouldn’t have approved it. The guidelines are clearly outlined by the UK and National Institutes of Health norms and the clinician should weigh the usefulness of the drug and then decide. It is fair not to include Molnupiravir in the national guideline as it is not effective against the Omicron variant,” she added.“Going by the fact that the drug, though easily available in the market at insignificant cost, hoarding may not happen. But it depends on the number of cases. So it’s better to monitor,” Dr Ravindra Mehta added.