Cipla set to launch repurposed drug Favipiravir for COVID-19: CSIR

An off-patent anti-viral, Favipiravir was originally discovered by Fujifilm group, Japan and has shown promise in treatment of COVID-19

By Jyoti Singh
Published: Friday 24 July 2020

Cipla is all set to launch its repurposed drug Favipiravir to help patients suffering from novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India, a government official has said.

The pharmaceutical maker has scaled up the process in its manufacturing facility and approached the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for permission to launch Favipiravir. DCGI has given permission for restricted emergency use of Favipiravir in India.

“Hopefully by August 1, the drug will be available in the market,” S Chandrasekhar, director, Souncil of Scientific and Industrial research-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT) said while speaking with India Science Wire.

An off-patent anti-viral, Favipiravir was originally discovered by Fujifilm group, Japan. It has shown promise in clinical trials for treatment of COVID-19 patients, especially mild and moderate patients. It is an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API). An active ingredient is the ingredient in a pharmaceutical drug or pesticide that is biologically active.

CSIR-IICT has developed a cost-effective process, using locally available chemicals to synthesise Favipiravir and transferred the technology to Cipla Ltd.

The pharmaceutical industry buys very advanced drug intermediates also called as Key Starting Materials (KSM) from China or some other countries. After one or two synthetic operations, these are made into final products. “We make KSM ourselves, starting from chemicals manufactured locally, that brings down the cost of these products,” Chandrasekhar said.

“The technology provided by CSIR-IICT is very efficient and makes it affordable and allows Cipla to make large quantities of the product within a short span of time,” he added.

Shekhar C Mande, the director-general of CSIR, said CSIR was working with industry in developing quick solutions and products for mitigation of COVID-19 and this partnership with Cipla was an example of how the organisation was committed to bringing repurposed drugs on a fast track.

“We are taking up some clinical trials for repurposing of some other drugs too. That will take some time,” Chandrasekhar said. (India Science Wire)

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