‘Promising’ oral antiviral drug vs COVID-19 now on Phase 3 clinical trial at Lung Center

Published August 6, 2021, 3:50 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The antiviral drug, “Molnupiravir” as treatment for mild and moderate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases is now on Phase 3 clinical trial at the Lung Center of the Philippines.


The clinical trial started on May 17 this year and has enrolled a total of 11 COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms, Dr. Randy Castillo said in an interview with the ANC.

The clinical trial, which is expected to end in September, is eyeing a total of 25 participants.

“The Philippines is expected to enroll around 25 patients, we have enrolled already 11 patients and so far out of these 11 patients, 80 to 90 percent we’ve seen the potential of this drug that these patients were not admitted, were just managed at home,” Castillo said.

He said the Molnupiravir is usually given twice a day for five days. “This is a very promising drug for COVID-19 infection.”

Molnupiravir was jointly developed by two major pharmaceutical companies, namely the Rigibel in Germany and Merck in the United States, according to reports.

Castillo said the Phase 3 trial is conducted in 100 countries and the Lung Center has become the country’s representative to the study.

He explained that before a participant is enrolled in the trial, he or she must have mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms in the last five days, must be COVID positive, and must not be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine.

When asked about the side effects of the Molnupiravir, the Lung Center executive said they “only see mild side effects.”

“So these could include nausea, headache, GI (gastrointestinal) upset, but these are all tolerable by the patients, and of course if we will weigh the benefits of the drug as opposed to the side effects, of course, what matters most is the potential of the drug to help the patient.”

Castillo said the new drug is seen to have been preventing the progression of COVID-19 as it inhibits the replication of the coronavirus.

“Sisirain nitong gamot na ‘to yung virus para wag na siyang magtuloy-tuloy na mag-replicate, so in effect it will not progress to a more severe disease in a mild to moderate patient (This drug will destroy the virus so that it does not continue to replicate, so in effect it will not progress to a more severe disease in a mild to moderate patient),” he said.

However, he said the enrolled participants were still allowed to receive “standard care” — meaning they were also taking antibiotics, antitussives, and other medicines.