US pharmaceutical major Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) has issued royalty-free, non-exclusive voluntary licenses to Indian generic firms Cipla Ltd, Lupin Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd manufacture to sell low cost versions of its new COVID-19 drug Baricitinib in India.
The voluntary license agreements come after Indian drug controller on May 3 granted permission for restricted emergency use of Baricitinib in combination with Remdesivir for the treatment of suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 in hospitalised adults requiring supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Lilly said the company is also in discussions with several other Indian manufacturers for the potential grant of additional voluntary licenses. These voluntary licensing agreements will ensure high quality manufacturing and accessibility of Baricitinib during this pandemic improving the local treatment options available to positively impact the lives of people who are currently battling COVID-19 in India, the company states.
"Lilly is committed to supporting India in this healthcare challenge through our innovative and effective portfolio of breakthrough medicines. During the current surging COVID-19 pandemic, we have responded by issuing three voluntary licenses for Baricitinib by pharmaceutical companies in India to accelerate its local manufacturing and distribution under best quality conditions. More licenses to additional Indian generic manufacturers are expected to be announced soon. This is in addition to the donations being offered by Lilly to the Indian government that will potentially help alleviate the burden of COVID-19. We will continue to explore other possible initiatives to support patients and the healthcare system in India," Luca Visini, Managing Director, India Subcontinent, Lilly India, said.
Commenting on the partnership, Umang Vohra, MD and Global CEO, Cipla Limited said that enabling access to high-quality treatment and medication is core to the company's purpose of 'caring for life'. "Through the pandemic, Cipla has been at the forefront of COVID-19 care and our partnership with Lilly is a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to care towards patients impacted by COVID-19," Vohra said.
On May 4, Lilly also announced that an initial donation of 400,000 Baricitinib tablets was being made immediately available through the humanitarian aid organisation, Direct Relief, to the Indian government for eligible hospitalised COVID-19 patients in India, while urgently working to increase product supply over the coming days. This donation furthers both Lilly and Direct Relief's charitable goal of providing access to COVID-19 treatments to patients in need.
Lilly is also engaged in active dialogue with the regulatory authorities and government in India to donate Lilly's anti-COVID-19 treatments, including Lilly's neutralising antibodies Bamlanivimab, and Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab that are to be administered together.