Covid 'favipiravir will be available at Rs 103 / tablet later in this month

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Covid 'favipiravir will be available at Rs 103 / tablet later in this month

Mumbai-based Glenmark has become the first pharmaceutical company in India to gain approval for the manufacture and marketing of favipiravir antivirals, one of the drugs being explored as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

The drug was reportedly approved by the Indian Superintendent of Drugs for "restricted emergency use" as Covid-19 treatment on Friday.

Glenmark said in a press release and at a press conference Saturday that the drug is recommended for mild and moderate conditions at Covid-19.

According to the company, the drug will be launched commercially next week and will likely be available through pharmacies, by prescription, later this month. Its price will be Rs 103 per tablet.

The antiviral drug was developed in Japan and then approved for use among influenza patients. Favipiravir is among the drugs under test for the treatment of Covid-19 along with the drug Ebola remdesivir, a combination of the anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, as well as a mixture of the latest drugs with interferon beta.

The drug is currently undergoing at least 18 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 patients in India, the United States, Canada, Italy, China, France, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

The first trials of the drug in China, which included 340 patients, produced encouraging results in Wuhan and Shenzhen.

"The use of faviravir showed a clear improvement in lung condition in 91 percent of treated patients, compared to 62 percent of those treated without medication," said a Chinese health official, according to a report released on March 18 in The Guardian.

In another observational study of more than 2,000 patients with mild to moderate symptoms in Japan, those who administered favipiravir were reported to show a clinical improvement of 74 percent on day 7 and up to 88 percent on day 14.

It was developed in the nineties.

Favipiravir was originally developed in the late 1990s by a company that was later acquired by the Japanese company Fujifilm as part of its transition from photography to healthcare.

After being tested against a group of viruses, the drug was approved in Japan in 2014 for emergency use against influenza epidemics or for the treatment of new influenza strains.

The Avigan brand in Japan will now be sold in India under the name "Fabe Flow".

This is the first approved and commercially available drug to treat Covid-19. Since it can be taken orally, it makes the medicine easier and easier to administer than, for example, Remeivivir Gilead, an injection that is also being studied in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Glenmark said Saturday the drug will be sold in a strip of 34 tablets at a dose of 200 mg for up to 14 days. The price of the drug is Rs 3,500, about Rs 103 per tablet.

But the company added that doctors will need patient approval before prescribing the drug.

According to Glenmark, the drug can be used in Covid-19 patients who have comorbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, who have mild to moderate symptoms of the disease.

"It provides a rapid decrease in viral load in four days and a faster improvement in symptoms and radiation. The company said in the press release that most importantly, faviravir showed clinical improvement of up to 88 percent in mild to moderate cases of Covid 19 ".

Glenmark said the drug should not be given to patients with severe kidney and liver failure, nor to pregnant and lactating women.

She added that the drug should be used with caution in patients with a history of abnormalities in uric acid metabolism or those with gout.

How does the drug work?

A Reuters report said the drug works by "shortening" the reproductive mechanism of some RNA viruses like influenza.

According to Glenmark, favipiravir works by entering human cells, since it is converted to favipiravir "ribofuranosyl-5′-triphosphate", also known as favipiravir-RTP by host cells. The host cell is a living cell in which the virus multiplies.

Favipiravir-RTP prevents the activity of "RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp)" for a new coronavirus, CoV2. This blocks viral reproduction and therefore reduces the viral load and severity of the disease.

Glenmark suggested using the medicine in combination with umifenovir - an approved influenza medicine. The company said in its presentation on Saturday: "Both drugs work in different mechanisms and the company said in its presentation on Saturday that the combined use of faviravir and omifenoffer provides comprehensive antiviral coverage around the pre and post life cycle of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Encouraging results

Favipiravir has so far been approved for experimental use among Covid-19 patients by regulators in Italy and China. It was also released commercially by companies in Bangladesh.

In Japan, it is used for compassionate use, that is, when using a drug that does not depend on dangerous patients in the absence of other treatments.

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