India has not added Merck's pill to the list of treatments for Covid due to 'major safety concerns', a top health official said during a media briefing today.
The Covid pill, Molnupiravir, had safety concerns and was therefore not included in the national list of treatments, said Dr Balram Bhargava, the Director General, Indian Council Of Medical Research.
"Molnupiravir has major safety concerns including mutagenicity, muscle and bone damage. If this drug is given contraception has to be done for three months as child may have problems. So it is not included in national task got treatments," Dr Bhargava said.
The announcement came just days after the Drugs Controller General of India gave emergency use approval to the drug along with two vaccines.
With a view to turn India into a manufacturing hub, Merck has entered into licensing agreements with eight domestic drugmakers to make and supply generic versions of Molnupiravir to over 100 low and middle-income countries.
A total of 13 companies in India will make Molnupiravir, the health ministry announced last week.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories, an Indian drugmaker, yesterday announced that it plans to launch a generic version of the Merck drug from next week.
India is gearing up for a possible third wave of Covid with the daily cases rising due to the new variant Omicron.
"Omicron is the predominant circulating strain in the cities in the country, mass gatherings to be avoided to lower the speed of this spread," Dr Bhargava said.
India has so far recorded 2,135 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra registering the maximum cases followed by Delhi.