By Madeeha Khan
Glenmark pharmaceuticals, a Mumbai based pharmaceutical firm on Saturday, 20th June 2020 launched an anti-viral drug ‘Favipiravir’ for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 cases. It has received an approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). They have released it under the brand name ‘FabiFlu’. This is the first oral approved medication in India for the treatment of COVID-19.
This drug will be available at both places, the hospitals and medical shops. It is a prescription-based medicine priced at Rs. 103 for 1 tablet and Rs. 3,500 for a 200 mg strip of 34 tablets. Favipiravir is not specifically made for COVID-19. This drug has already been used by Japan for influenza and they are also using it to treat COVID-19 patients. Russia and China have also been using it.
Glenmark claims that Favipiravir shows clinical improvements of up to 88% in COVID-19, with rapid reduction in viral load by 4 days, provides faster symptomatic and radiological improvement. A dose of 1800 mg will be given to the patient twice on the first day. From second day onwards, the patient will be given 800 mg twice a day for up to 14 days. This medicine can be given to the patients between the age group of 20 to 90. Glenmark said that, it can also be consumed by patients with co-morbid condition such as diabetes and heart disease with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
An undertaking will be taken from the patients, before allowing them to consume the medicine, as the approval is in the emergency category, due to the current pandemic. 70% to 80% of the COVID-19 patients fall under the mild to moderate category for which this drug is approved and applicable. A patient falling under this category need not be admitted in the hospital and can stay at home.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had done a comprehensive amalgamation of Favipiravir in April. CSIR got the approval of DGCI to conduct multi-centre Phase-II trials, earlier this week. Glenmark is producing the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for the drug at its Ankleshwar plant in Gujarat, while the formulation is being manufactured at its Baddi plant in Himachal Pradesh. Considering that one patient will minimum require 2 strips, Glenmark will be able to provide FabiFlu for almost 82,500 patients in the first month itself.
However, Dr. Vikas Maurya, Director of Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders said, “It is not a magic bullet as it is not the only thing we have to give. This is not a specific drug made for COVID-19 and has been found to be useful, but how much it will be useful we will have to see. Real efficiency will be known when administered on a large scale.” “Best thing is that it is an oral drug, while Ramdesiver is an intravenous drug. Favipiravir can be taken at home. So even if it is giving some benefit, it will be quite useful,” Dr. Maurya added. On the other hand, lung surgeon Dr. Arvind Kumar said the he does not believe that any of these anti-viral drugs like Ramdesiver or Favipiravir will be game changers.
India now ranks 4th Globally with a daily increase in COVID-19 cases. Currently, Maharashtra alone has 3000+ COVID-19 cases with Mumbai having more than 1000 cases. In the end, we can hope and pray that with the help of this drug the number of cases per day reduces and eventually leads us to a safe and ‘Corona free’ environment.
Image Credits: The Logical Indian