The COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir is expected to hit the Chinese market on Friday, after passing its first import test on Wednesday, said Liu Yong, president of Sinopharm, the dealer and exclusive agent for the drug in the domestic market.
The first batch of molnupiravir, known by the brand name Lagevrio and developed by US pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), arrived at the warehouse of Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai on January 4, thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.
"Hundreds of thousands of boxes of the drug have arrived in Shanghai and more are coming in," Cai Maisong, vice president of Sinopharm, said on Tuesday.
Cai said the company will affix Chinese labels to the drugs and dispatch them across the country afterwards.
The drug was initially priced at 1,500 yuan ($221.21) per bottle and each bottle contains 40 pills, according to a notice from Tianjin Medical Purchase Center on Tuesday.
Currently, MSD is actively preparing the stock to ensure an orderly supply of the drug, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Sinopharm is the sole legally authorized importer of the drug in China and is responsible for distribution to downstream companies, according to the statement.
To meet the needs of Chinese patients and help China's fight against COVID-19, MSD said it has launched licensing negotiations with Sinopharm to manufacture and supply molnupiravir in China in the future.
The National Medical Products Administration said on December 30 that approval had been given for the conditional import of molnupiravir for urgent use in treating COVID-19.
Molnupiravir is a small-molecule oral antiviral drug that can be used for treating mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients who face the risk of developing more serious symptoms, including patients who are elderly, obese or have chronic conditions like coronary heart disease or diabetes.