Covid-19 medicine purchase needs prescription

Many major pharmacy chains in Vietnam yesterday began to sell Covid-19 pills containing agent Molnupiravir for F0 cases with a prescription. However, many people still could not buy the medicine because they do not bring along a required F0 certificate by healthcare units.

Buying Covid-19 medicine at a pharmacy in District 3 of HCMC. (Photo: SGGP)

On the first day Covid-19 pills are launched into the market, Ho Chi Minh City saw no abnormal activities among drugstores thanks to the strict purchase regulation.

At the Medicine and Medical Equipment Trading Center, sited in District 10, only a few stores sell Covid-19 pills containing Molnupiravir at the retail and wholesale price of VND290,000 (US$12.7) and VND250,000 ($10.9) a pack. A store clerk informed that this medicine needs booking 3-5 days in advance.

At a nearby Pharmacity store, the salesperson shared that since this drug has many side effects, it is only sold under prescription for certain patient groups. Similarly, at a Long Chau store on Thong Nhat Street in Go Vap District, the salesclerk informed that the drug is sold at a price of VND290,000 ($12.7) per pack for those with a prescription.

Duc Hanh from District 3 said that her family member is infected with Covid-19, but since the ward clinic has not formally tested that person, there is no F0 certificate issued. Therefore, she cannot buy the necessary medicine. Sharing the same story is Tran Thi Lan from Phu Nhuan District, who had to come back to the ward clinic for an F0 certificate to purchase the drug.

Although many people feel disappointed, not being able to buy the medicine to cure the disease for their family members without an F0 certificate, all salesclerks of pharmacies affirmed that it is not always good to freely buy the pill to drink without medical consultation from doctors.

With an F0 certificate and prescription at hand, buyers still need to sign in an agreement form by the pharmacy. This form will then be submitted to the Health Ministry. Each prescription is allowed to buy a pack once only.

Citizens need an F0 certificate and a prescription before being able to buy the made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 medicine. (Photo: SGGP)
Ironically, in contrast with a so strict way to obtain Covid-19 pills at formal pharmacies, it is much easier to buy them online on social media sites. They do not need to display any valid prescription, nor are they provided with clear usage instruction.

N.C. from Tan Binh District is marketing her drug products named Molravir 400, made in Vietnam, at a price of VND380,000 ($16.7) a pack and Molnupiravir Capsules 200mg (a pack of 40 pills), made in India, at a price of VND2.8 million ($122.6). The only instruction she gives is to drink the medicine twice a day for 3-5 days to be cured without any side effects or Covid-19 long-term sequelae.

Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, Chief of the Office of the HCMC Health Department, stated that Covid-19 medicine is an antiviral drug sold only under prescription. Her department has sent a request for clear guidance on prescribing drug for type A coronavirus disease (Covid-19). It hopes to receive the instruction soon so that pharmacies can safely sell this drug to those in need.

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