Glenmark Pharmaceuticals became the first Indian company to secure drug regulator’s nod on manufacturing and marketing the antiviral drug, Favipiravir in India. It will now be available in the Indian market under the brand name FabiFlu at Rs 103 per tablet. The company said it would first cater to the domestic market requirements, however added that exports would depend on the regulatory requirements of other countries. Before this, Glenmark's net debt was over Rs 3,600 crore at the end of the March quarter. FabiFlu may give a decent push to its domestic business.
The Japanese flu drug, Favipiravir is made by a subsidiary of Fujifilm helping to treat patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 infection. However, a Japanese health official told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper that the drug isn’t very effective in severe Covid-19 cases. The potential is significant -- the drug is to be used in Turkey, it is already available in Bangladesh, approval granted in the UAE, while the protocol is approved in Jordan. More than 15 companies are under the registration approval process to launch the drug in Egypt. Indonesia and Thailand have approved clinical protocol, several CIS countries like Ukraine have adopted it in Covid-19 protocol, and Iraq and Saudi Arabia are evaluating the drug.
The drug has shown promise in multiple global studies, with reduction in viral load, faster fever resolution, and faster clinical recovery. A Chinese trial in 340 people showed that the virus tended to be cleared in four days in those who received the drug, versus 11 days in those who went without. Glenmark has also been working to conduct phase 3 clinical trial on mild to moderate Covid-19 patients.
In India, the drug will be sold at retail chemist outlets as well as hospitals. This is an emergency use authorisation due to the pandemic situation prevalent in the country and the need for timely treatment. Whenever a doctor prescribes favipiravir, an “informed consent” from the patient is requisite. Patients with a valid prescription can procure the drug from retail chemists, as many of them may not need hospitalisation.
Industry sources indicate that several players are ready to launch their version of favipiravir in the market and that the prices will come down soon. Already companies like Optimus Pharma and Brinton Pharma have started commercially exporting the drug from here.