Use Molnupiravir with “abundant caution”: State
A letter issued by the additional chief secretary Pradeep Vyas stated that the drug must not be prescribed to Covid patients below 18 years and pregnant women
Mumbai The state government asked all districts and corporations to use the new antiviral drug Molnupiravir with “abundant caution” on Monday.
A letter issued by the additional chief secretary Pradeep Vyas stated that the drug must not be prescribed to Covid patients below 18 years and pregnant women. It also stated that the drug should be avoided for women in the reproductive age group.
“The biggest concern with Molnupiravir is its potential for adverse effects such as induced mutations on the reproductive cells, such as males and female gametes,” Vyas said in his letter. “Secondly, the fast-dividing cells may accumulate mutations in bone and cartilages. Most importantly, Molnupiravir, when taken in suboptimal doses, is likely to cause sublethal mutations and perpetuate further variants. Hence, it is very very important to take a full course, once the medicine is started,” he said.
Molnupiravir was granted emergency use approval by the Indian drug regulator at the end of December. However, the Centre’s latest treatment protocol issued on Monday does not include the drug. Recently, Odisha stopped the use of the drug.
In his letter, Vyas said that the drug should be prescribed to Covid patients who have mild illness and does not require oxygen in the first five days of the illness.
“If prescribed to patients in the reproductive age group, women with childbearing potential are advised to use a reliable method of birth control correctly and consistently during treatment with Molnupiravir and for three months after the final dose. Men with reproductive potential who are sexually active with women of childbearing potential should also be advised to use a reliable method of birth control correctly and consistently during treatment with Molnupiravir and for at least three months after the final dose as the drug impacts the sperm cells,” the letter said.
Doctors across the state have been widely prescribing the drug since it hit the market. A doctor said that many patients who don’t fit the criteria have also been prescribed the drug.
In a media briefing held on January 5, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) head Dr Balaram Bhargava has said that Molnupiravir was not included in the Covid treatment protocol because of its safety concerns such as teratogenicity (ability to cause defects in a developing fetus), mutagenicity, risk of cartilage and muscle damage.