By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Panfilo “Ping”
Lacson is encouraging the national government to move quickly in its
procurement and approval of scientifically proven antiviral drugs such
as ‘molnupiravir’ amid our country’s continuing battle against
The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) must be on its toes to grant
an emergency use authorization (EUA) for those pills, according to
Lacson, so that Filipinos would not be left behind anew in having
access to a possible potent medication against the viral disease.
“‘Yung mismong permiso ibigay na, ilabas na ng FDA para ‘pag nandiyan
na sa merkado, bibili na lang tayo o bibili ‘yung national government,
local government, ipapamahagi sa mga public hospital,” Lacson told an
assembly held over the weekend in Cabuyao City, Laguna.
(The permission itself must now be released, the FDA should be ready
for it, so that once it [molnupiravir] becomes available in the
market, our national and local governments will be prepared to
purchase and distribute it to our public hospitals.)
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the biopharmaceutical companies
behind molnupiravir, have conducted successful clinical trials to
treat highly transmissible COVID-19 variants, which reportedly reduced
the risk of hospitalizations for patients by 50 percent.
Lacson said such development is highly welcomed and appreciated
because it eases the pressure off both our private and public
hospitals with respect to treating severe to critical cases of
COVID-19 among patients, which could lead to death.
To drive home his point on the importance of unburdening our hospitals
and making COVID-19 medications readily available for the public, the
incumbent senator and presidential aspirant shared the story of one of
his staff members who’s life was threatened by the disease.
“Ako, mismong staff ko, na-COVID… Nakapila, alam niyo ang tawag,
sitting patient. Hindi na siya makahinga, nandoon siya sa corridor ng
ospital, naghihintay ng kuwartong mababakante. Napakiusap namin na
ipasok sa San Lazaro,” Lacson narrated.
(My own staff dealt with COVID-19. He was in line, they were called
‘sitting patients.’ He could no longer breathe. He was in the hospital
corridor, waiting for a room to get vacant. Fortunately, we were able
to have him admitted at the San Lazaro hospital.)
“Ngayon, naresetahan ng doktor, remdesivir. Ang sagot kaagad, wala
kaming available niyan sa aming pharmacy. Bakit? Bakit walang stock?
Bakit kailangan bumili ‘yung pobreng pasyente?” he asked, hoping to
avoid similar incidents from cropping up in hospitals again in the
(He was prescribed remdesivir by his doctor. But he was told that the
medicine was not available in their pharmacy. Why? Why was it out of
stock? Why does the poor patient have to be the one to buy it for
Only four hospitals have so far been granted by the FDA to use
molnupiravir for their COVID-19 patients under a compassionate special
permit. The agency has yet to act on the EUA filed for the potentially
game-changing antiviral drug since October, according to reports.
Globally, only the United Kingdom has given widespread approval for
molnupiravir. The drug will reportedly be sold under the name Lagevrio
in the UK to help its citizens cope with COVID-19 by interfering with
the virus’ ability to replicate itself.