Vietnam says Pfizer, MSD to grant its firms licenses to produce COVID-19 pills

South Korean tourists arrive at a hotel in Phu Quoc island, among the first wave of visitors in nearly two years as the country seeks to resurrect its pandemic-ravaged tourism economy, in Vietnam, November 20, 2021. VINPEARL/Handout via REUTERS

HANOI, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Drugmakers Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and MSD, known as Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) in North America, have agreed to give licenses to firms in Vietnam to produce COVID-19 treatment pills, Vietnam's ministry of health said on Friday.

The companies have sent letters of approval to the Drug Administration of Vietnam, the ministry said in a statement, for the production of Molnupiravir and Paxlovid pills.

Pfizer last week said it would allow generic manufacturers to supply its experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill to 95 low- and middle-income countries through a voluntary licensing agreement with international public health group Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).

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Pfizer and MSD did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comments.

The ministry said five local pharmaceutical companies have shown their interest in acquiring the license for producing Molnupiravir.

Vietnam has so far recorded 1.1 million COVID-19 infections and 24,000 deaths. Over 47% of its population of 98 million have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The ministry said Vietnam has so far used 250,000 Molnupiravir doses, with 72%-93% of recipients recovering after five days.

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Editing by Martin Petty

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