Australia stocks up on COVID-19 treatment medications

By Jackson Graham

Monday October 18, 2021

Greg Hunt-telehealth
Greg Hunt (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)

Australia’s supply of COVID-19 treatment medications is growing, with thousands of doses of an intravenous drug secured and half a million courses of an oral drug. 

The federal government secured the two drugs at the weekend, following approval from the Therapeutic Good Administration and advice from the national COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. 

Australia will be supplied with 15,000 doses of the COVID-19 antibody-based therapy, ronapreve. 

The government has also secured 500,000 treatment courses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral drug to be used in combination with the protease inhibitor drug ritonavir if it receives regulatory approval from the TGA. 

Ronapreve, which can block the infectivity of the virus, is administered intravenously for COVID-19 patients in a health care facility. The government expects it will be available this month and treat unvaccinated people who are at risk of developing severe disease. 

“Treatment with ronapreve has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by up to 70% in patients with confirmed COVID-19,” federal health minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. 

The oral Pfizer drug is still undergoing clinical trials and could become available next year. 

“This oral antiviral treatment is taken every 12 hours for five days and is designed to block an enzyme the virus needs in order to multiply early in its lifecycle,” Hunt said. 

“Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir is expected to help slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of the treatment in order for it to remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations to combat the virus.” 

Hunt said vaccination remained the best protection against COVID-19. 

Australia earlier this month secured 300,000 courses of antiviral pill molnupiravir, which is also still subject to TGA approval.


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