Sales of Molnupiravir tablets used to treat COVID-19 have increased in recent weeks. Various sources claim that patients have been given them without a prescription. A business that has become lucrative for some.
Used in the treatment of COVID-19 Molnupiravir seems to be popular. An increase in sales has been noted for some time, according to several sources. This is also confirmed by Siddique Khodabocus, President of the Pharmacy Council. “There is a fairly significant recovery in sales of Molnupiravir compared to May. Pharmacists say they are getting many prescriptions for this drug,” he says.
Sources, however, claim that patients manage to acquire it without having a prescription signed by a doctor. Which is a dangerous practice, warns Dr. Soobaraj Sok Appadu, National COVID-19 Coordinator. “Molnupiravir is like a prescription antibiotic,” he says.
Thus, some pharmacies would ignore these rules in order to sell their stock and increase their turnover, maintaining various interlocutors. “While most pharmacists respect the rules, there are still bad apples that do not honor the profession,” explains one pharmacist on condition of anonymity.
Taking such a drug without a prescription can have serious side effects, according to Dr. Sok Appadu. “Regardless of the product, any drug can have adverse effects on the body. That is why it is necessary to respect the dosage and the doctor’s advice.”
Molnupiravir can cause allergies and lead to serious reactions: skin irritations, suffocation and tightening of the throat, among others. It can also induce resistance to viruses later. The drug can also interact with other products, which is dangerous, insists Dr. Sok 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 agent used in the treatment of this disease to reduce the replication of the virus, which will prevent it from multiplying and causing unwanted effects,” he explains.
Dr. Sok Appadu points out that Molnupiravir is available in the public healthcare system after presenting a prescription from a doctor who will have taken several factors into consideration before prescribing the drug.
Siddique Khodabocus is of the opinion that patients would not buy a medicine that costs more than Rs 1,000 on average if they were not positive for COVID-19. “There are drugs that are classified as antibiotics and psychotropic that require a prescription to get. »
But, he says, Molnupiravir does not fall into this category, as do most over-the-counter over-the-counter drugs. “Even paracetamol should be sold on prescription, but there is no regulation requiring this,” a pharmacist lamented on condition of anonymity.
For Siddique Khodabocus, controlling the sale of all drugs so that they are only sold on prescription would create outcry among the population. “Especially when it comes to products intended to treat patients with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, among other things. »
He assesses that the pharmacist is sufficiently qualified and able to give 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 the presentation of a prescription. But he is of the opinion that there is a reality to be taken into account and that we cannot apply everything that is done abroad in Mauritius.
According to him, the Pharmacy Council wants to introduce the concept of “Prescription Pharmacist”, so that pharmacists themselves can prescribe medication to patients without having to consult a doctor. “Then more advanced training will be offered to pharmacists. »
Increase in cases?
Does the increase in Molnupiravir sales mean that there is an increase in 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 indicates, according to official figures, it is communicating that the number of cases has dropped in recent weeks.
Several Home Self-Test Kits Sold, Siddique Khodabocus Says
Siddique Khodabocus notes that sales of COVID-19 Home Self-Test Kits have increased in recent weeks. He attributes to this increase a possible relaxation in the population with regard to the health protocol.
He also notes that sales of hygiene masks are stagnating. Which, according to him, is a consequence of certain statements, so it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask. “All of this could have contributed to a relaxation in terms of barrier movements,” he believes. He asks the people to be vigilant because COVID-19 is still present.