Lupin willing to take partners to bring mRNA Covid-19 vaccines to India

Topics Coronavirus | Lupin | Remdesivir

Lupin wants to be on the forefront of Covid-19 treatment in India and is looking for tie-ups to bring in drugs like Remdesivir.
Lupin is considering working with other vaccine makers to bring their Covid-19 inoculations to India. This could be through imports or even through fill-and-finish of the vaccine bulk drug, the company said.

Lupin wants to be on the forefront of Covid-19 treatment in India and is looking for tie-ups to bring in drugs like Remdesivir.

“We would love to bring in an mRNA vaccine here. There are at least half a dozen leading candidates of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. We do not have any visibility on the timelines,” said Nilesh Gupta, managing director of Lupin, on Thursday.

For vaccines, Lupin is looking for "good meaningful efficacy products" and it is in talks with partners. The company is not expecting a deal in two to three months.

Gupta said mRNA vaccines have stringent cold chain requirements too. Some have complex cold chain requirements. Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are the leading candidates globally that have used mRNA technology.

The company is open to exploring partnerships to utilise its fill-and-finish facility. “We have a fill-and-finish facility available but there are no opportunities in the near term. The facility is lying idle now and can be put to good use,” Gupta told reporters.

Lupin is also scouting for opportunities in the Covid therapy space. It has already tied up with Eli Lilly for baricitinib which is being prescribed along with Remdesivir to hospitalised Covid-19 patients. It expects to bring in the drug to the Indian market over the next two months.

“We need to submit some stability data on the drug before the drug regulator. So, some development work needs to be done. Lilly, meanwhile, is also importing the drug to meet the demand in India. It is also helping us to make the product here,” Gupta said.

He added that Lupin has also applied for a voluntary license for Remdesivir from Gilead. “The application is pending and we would like to work with Gilead on Remdesivir. We will not apply for a compulsory license though,” Gupta explained.

Apart from baricitinib, Lupin is also exploring tie-ups with MSD for molnupiravir, another experimental drug used to treat Covid patients. “This is an ongoing development and we should be able to bring the drug in alongside the other voluntary license holders,” Gupta said.

MSD had announced last month that it had given voluntary licenses to five Indian drug makers including Emcure, Sun Pharma, Hetero, Cipla and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.

Gupta admitted that Lupin was relatively ‘quiet’ during the first wave of the pandemic. “We did not do enough during the first phase and now we want to be in the forefront of Covid treatment options.”

Lupin’s net profit grew 18.2 percent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 460.4 crore in the quarter ended March 31 riding on growth in the India business and emerging markets. When compared to Q4FY19, the profit after tax has grown by 59 percent.

Revenues dropped by 1.6 per cent YoY to Rs 3,783 crore, and on a QoQ basis,the revenue dropped 5.8 per cent. When compared to Q4FY19, the revenues have dipped by 14 per cent.

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