Drug to treat Covid-19 ready, says Strides Pharma; stock rises 20%

Favipiravir is a generic version of Avigan, which was initially developed in Japan to treat influenza
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Strides Pharma Science said on Wednesday it had developed and commercialised an antiviral that has demonstrated positive outcomes in patients who have tested positive for coronavirus disease.

Favipiravir, which is being touted to have proven to reduce duration of Covid and improve lung conditions for patients, is a generic version of Avigan that was initially developed in Japan to treat influenza. It has been called one of the most promising drug against the virus by the government task force.

The product, available in 400 mg and 200 mg strengths, is being exported to Gulf countries. “We are the first Indian company to develop and commercially launch Favipiravir tablets for global markets. This development reinforces our commitment to play a substantial role in society by bringing affordable and quality health care to millions around the globe,” said chief executive officer and managing director R Ananthanarayanan.

The company’s stock gained 20 per cent to Rs 449.1 on BSE. Strides said it will immediately apply to Indian drug authorities to commence necessary studies and make the drug available to Indians expeditiously. The tablets are being manufactured at Strides’ flagship facility in Bengaluru, which can produce up to 6 billion units of solid orals annually. The company has entered into a preferred arrangement with an Indian API manufacturer for the supplies of Favipiravir API. “The partner has commercialised the Favipiravir API from its USFDA, KFDA, PMDA and WHO approved manufacturing facility and has capabilities to manufacture the Favipiravir API in-house,” the firm said.

Several key Indian firms such as Zydus Cadila, Cipla, Glenmark, and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories are working on developing antivirals.

Glenmark Pharma has approached the Drug Controller General of India, too, for approval of Favipiravir. It would test the drug on 100-150 patients in a phase-3 trial. This would take around a month as the drug-course is for 14 days. The global market for antiviral drugs has the possibility of surpassing $62.67 billion by 2022.


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