Cipla, one of the largest global suppliers of respiratory and inhalable medicines, is scouting for vaccine collaborations and the launch of more drugs than can tame the COVID-19 virus, which mainly affects the human lungs.
Cipla's research and development department is working on a couple of therapies that can be used in the treatment of COVID-19 and it could consider entering into marketing collaborations with companies that are currently developing vaccines for COVID-19, Umang Vohra, global CEO and managing director of Cipla told Business Today.
"We could consider vaccine collaboration and play a key role if the demand and situation warrant, as and when vaccines are ready. We have one of the largest drug distributions set up in India and in numerous countries around the world," he said, noting that Cipla is already a major supplier of drugs that are used in treating the disease. Cipla is the largest supplier of inhaled drugs across the globe after GlaxoSmithKline and controls almost 70% of the inhalation market in India.
In June, Cipla had launched Cipremi (Gilead's Remdesivir), the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) treatment for patients with severe COVID-19 disease. In May, Gilead Sciences had extended a voluntary non-exclusive license to Cipla to manufacture and market Cipla's generic version of remedisvir. Cipla is also selling Actemra (Toclizumab), a repurposed drug now widely used in the treatment of COVID-19. The drugmaker had entered into a distribution agreement for this drug two years ago with the inventor Roche. The drug was initially indicated for treating auto-immune disorders.
Earlier in August, Cipla launched Favipiravir, an off-patent oral anti-viral drug that has been shown to hasten clinical recovery in COVID -19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms. Cipla sells favipiravir under the brand name Ciplenza and is priced at Rs 68 per tablet.
"It was a challenge to bring out these therapies, which were not there before, within a month or so and our key employees were actually shuttling between our units by road to realise the drugs come out of our plants as early as possible," said Umang Vohra.
Besides, Cipla also sells 'Ciphands' hand sanitisers, already a popular brand in India. Under the Cipla Foundation, it also supported setting up of a COVID Isolation ward at BJ Wadia Children's Hospital and advancing testing facilities at JJ Hospital in Mumbai. It also sets-up Rs 25 crore 'Caring for Life' COVID-19 dedicated Fund, including contribution from employees, to support patients, the healthcare ecosystem and communities.