Molnupiravir will remain available for people who need it

Media release COVID-19 Medicines

Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac has confirmed today that molnupiravir will remain available as a treatment to protect against infection from COVID-19 for people who need it.  

“It’s important we review the ongoing role of antivirals and make decisions based on advice and evidence we have available to us,” says Pharmac’s Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes. “The COVID-19 environment has changed since antivirals were initially rolled out, so we’re making sure the treatments can still provide meaningful benefits for New Zealanders. Asking the community what their experiences are with these treatments helps us to do that.”

In April 2023, Pharmac sought feedback on the funding of molnupiravir as evolving evidence suggested it may no longer be as effective compared to what had been considered previously.

“Based on the feedback we received, we’ve decided to retain access to molnupiravir for the small group of people who are unable to receive the other, preferred antivirals. Most people currently using these treatments are over 80 years old.”

Nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (branded as Paxlovid) may be unsuitable for people with multiple health conditions, and remdesivir (branded as Veklury) as may be impractical as it is an infusion treatment, not widely available in the community.

“We were grateful for the feedback we received in response to the consultation on the availability of molnupiravir. We will continue to talk with healthcare practitioners to understand its use in the community,” concludes Dr Hughes.