The Government will subsidise the use of new Covid-19 treatment Ronapreve. The Roche drug still has to be approved by Medsafe, but has been approved in Australia, and is on Medsafe’s high priority list – suggesting approval is likely. It is administered by an infusion or injection and is intended for use in those likely to become severely unwell from Covid-19. Pharmac has also funded a Covid-19 treatment pill named molnupiravir which could be prescribed for more moderate cases not yet hospitalised. READ MORE:* Covid-19: Pharmac signs deal for experimental treatment pill molnupiravir* Coronavirus: The medicine being invented and used to treat Covid-19* Pharmac funds arthritis drug for Covid-19 amid major stock shortages Ronapreve is designed to mimic natural antibodies made by the immune system and use these to stop Covid-19 binding to cells in the lungs. It was partially developed by sampling natural antibodies from people who had successfully fought off the disease.David Goldman/APThe Roche drug still has to be approved by Medsafe, but has been approved in Australia, and is on Medsafe’s high priority list – suggesting approval is likely. Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt said the best way to stop getting very sick from Covid-19 was still the vaccine, but this would be a useful tool to have as a backup. “While getting vaccinated is by far and away the best line of defence against COVID-19, it’s good to know New Zealand will have another treatment available for those who do become unwell,” Fitt said. “The unprecedented nature of the pandemic, and the ongoing health risks posed by COVID-19, means Pharmac is continuing to seek out other treatments to be used to help those with COVID-19.” “To fund these other treatments, we’re using a dedicated budget allocated by Government to make sure New Zealand can access new COVID-19 medicines.” As well as the newer drugs Molnupiravir and Ronapreve, Pharmac has funded wider access to tocilizumab, a drug usually used for arthritis that has also been useful for fighting Covid-19, and antiviral drug remdesivir. Ronapreve, brand-named REGEN-COV in the USA, was used to treat Donald Trump when he was hospitalised from a Covid-19 infection. It has been licensed for use in many countries, including the UK, US, Japan, and India.