COVID-19 drug sold without a prescription – Molnupiravir: a lucrative business for some

The sale of Molnupiravir tablets, used in the treatment of COVID-19, has increased in recent weeks. Various sources claim that patients have obtained them without a prescription. A business that has become lucrative for some.

In the treatment used against 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 substantial recovery in the sale of Molnupiravir compared to May. Pharmacies say they receive many prescriptions for this drug,” he says.

Sources have required 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 an antibiotic that can only be taken on prescription,” he says.

Some pharmacies would thus ignore these regulations in order to sell their stock and boost their turnover, involving various interlocutors. “While most pharmacists respect the regulations, there are bad apples that do the profession no credit,” explains a pharmacist on condition of anonymity.

Taking such a drug without a prescription can have serious beneficial effects, according to Dr. Sok Appadu. “Regardless of the product, any drug can have adverse effects on the body. This is why it is necessary to respect the dosage and the advice of the doctor. »

Molnupiravir can cause an allergy and lead to severe reactions: skin irritations, choking and tightening of the throat, among others. It can also induce resistance to viruses later on. The drug can also interact with other products, which is dangerous, Dr. Sok Appadu insists.

He adds that Molnupiravir is only used in patients who are COVID-19 positive and have symptoms of the disease. “It is an antiviral used in the treatment of this disease in order to reduce the replication of the virus, which prevents it from multiplying and causing adverse effects,” he explains.

Dr. Sok Appadu points out that Molnupiravir is available in the public health service on presentation of a prescription from a doctor, who will have taken into consideration multiple factors before prescribing the drug.

Siddique Khodabocus is of the opinion that patients would not buy a medicine which costs more than Rs 1,000 on average if they were not positive for COVID-19. “There are drugs that are classified as possible and psychotropics that require a prescription to obtain. »

However, he says, Molnupiravir does not fall into this category, like most drugs that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. “Even paracetamol should be sold on prescription, but there is no regulation that requires this,” regrets a pharmacist on condition of anonymity.

For Siddique Khodabocus, controlling the sale of all drugs so that they are sold only on prescription would raise an outcry among the population. “Particularly when it comes to products intended to treat patients with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, among others. »

He considers that the pharmacist is sufficiently qualified and able to give a medicine if he knows the patient well. Siddique Khodabocus, however, wants to reveal 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 consideration and that we cannot apply to Mauritius everything that is done abroad.

According to him, the Pharmacy Council wants to introduce the concept of “Prescribing Pharmacist” so that pharmacists can themselves prescribe medicines to patients without them having to consult a doctor. “More advanced training would then be offered to pharmacists. »

Increase in cases?

If the sale of Molnupiravir has increased, does this mean that there is an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19? Dr. Sok Appadu clarified that the virus is still circulating and that there are still admissions to the New ENT Hospital in Vacoas. But the Ministry of Health, according to the official figures it communicates, indicates that the number of cases has fallen in recent weeks.

More Home Self-Testing Kits sold, says Siddique Khodabocus

Siddique Khodabocus notes that the sale of home COVID-19 self-test kits has soared in recent weeks. He attributes this increase to a possible relaxation within the population with regard to the health protocol.

He also notes that the sale of sanitary masks is stagnating. Which, according to him, is a consequence of certain statements made so that wearing a mask is no longer compulsory. “All of this could have contributed to a relaxation in respect of barrier gestures,” he believes. He asks the population to remain vigilant because the COVID-19 is still present.


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