China's first oral anti-COVID-19 drug withdrawn from online sale

China’s first oral anti-COVID-19 drug withdrawn from online sale

Oral drug developed in China for the treatment of COVID-19 Azvudine

Oral drug developed in China for the treatment of COVID-19 Azvudine

The first oral drug developed in China for the treatment of COVID-19 was pulled from the shelves of e-commerce platforms on Saturday, hours after media reported that its online sale had started in some pharmacies.

Experts and China’s COVID-19 prevention and control protocol have suggested that it is inappropriate for the drug to be available to the public in pharmacies, as suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 should be isolated and treated in designated health facilities.

News arrived on Saturday morning that some pharmacies had started online sales of Azvudine, produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Genuine Biotech. On some e-commerce platforms such as Meituan and Eleme, pre-sale links of Azvudine by these pharmacies could be found, with prices ranging from 350 yuan ($49.2) to 499 yuan.

An employee of an online pharmacy told the Global Times on Saturday that the drug was on presale only because they didn’t have the stock, which could arrive next week. And customers must provide a doctor’s prescription before placing an order.

However, all pre-sale pages disappeared by midday Saturday after another Chinese outlet reported that Genuine Biotech had contacted affected pharmacies about the online sale of Azvudine, which will be pulled from shelves immediately.

In a later statement, Genuine Biotech explained that the online sale of Azvudine by some Chinese Nepstar pharmacies based in Shenzhen is an isolated case, with the original intention to meet the needs of some people coming and going from Hong Kong or abroad for HIV-1 indication drug.

The drugs for sale online come from the 10 bottles of Azvudine tablets purchased by Nepstar’s Chinese subsidiary in Shenzhen, according to the statement.

The company will strictly comply with the requirements of the national epidemic prevention policy and do a good job in the production and supply of anti-COVID-19 drug production under the coordination of various ministries.

Additionally, the National Medical Products Administration said Azvudine should not be allowed to be sold to the public online or offline, national news site reported, citing a China Nepstar Chain Drugstore source. , which was among the first to launch the pre-sale of the drug.

As COVID-19 is classified as a Notifiable Category B Infectious Disease but regulated as a Category A Infectious Disease, suspected and confirmed cases should be isolated and treated at designated health facilities in accordance with China Protocol for the prevention and control of COVID-19.

But if the drug is available to the public online, there is a possibility that it will be abused by the public, as some people suspected of COVID-19 infection may try to get it through illegal means to avoid being hospitalized, which would violate the current. epidemic prevention and control policy, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Saturday.

Also, the drug has side effects and could be dangerous for patients to take it at home without doctor’s advice, Wang noted. Azvudine was originally approved for use in the treatment of people infected with the HIV-1 virus.

In July, China gave conditional approval for the use of Azvudine to treat people with COVID-19. In August, Azvudine was included in the 9th version of China’s national COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment scheme. About 40% of trial participants given Azvudine improved their symptoms within seven days, 30% more than those in the placebo group, according to a Henan Daily report in July. He said trials also found the drug could clear the virus in five days.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid is another oral COVID-19 antiviral drug that has won conditional approval from the Chinese regulator so far.

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