Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila has launched the cheapest Remdesivir injection for COVID-19 treatment in India so far, triggering a price war with other companies licensed by Gilead to sell it in India and other geographies.
Priced at Rs 2,800 for a 100 mg lyophilized injection, its brand 'Remdac' will be the most economical Remdesivir brand in India and will be made available across the country. Its distribution chain would reach out to government and private hospitals treating coronavirus patients, Zydus said today.
Zydus is the fifth Indian company to launch the drug in India after Hetero Labs, Cipla, Mylan NV and Jubilant Life Sciences. While Cipla prices Cipremi, its generic version of Remdesivir, at Rs 4,000 per 100 mg vial, Hetero Healthcare's Covifor is priced Rs 5,400. International company Mylan's Remdesivir generic is priced at Rs 4,800 per vial. Hetero Labs was the first to launch the drug in India. Jubilant Generics launched its brand JUBI-R in the Indian market last week at a price of Rs 4,700 per vial of 100 mg.
An international brokerage Sanford Bernstein recently estimated the COVID-19 market in India for Remdesivir and Favipirvir, the two approved treatments, to be around Rs 220 crore.
In the case of antiviral drug Favipiravir, Glenmark's Fabiflu was launched at Rs 103 per 200 mg tablet and later was reduced to Rs 75 as competitors launched their versions much cheaper. Favivent of Jenburkt Pharmaceuticals is priced only Rs 39 per 200 mg tablet, Cipla's Ciplenza costs Rs 68, Brinton Pharmaceuticals' Faviton and Hetero Labs Favivir are priced Rs 59 per tablet.
India's drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has not yet capped the prices of coronavirus treatments, though non-governmental organisations and patient groups have been demanding a cap on prices in the past couple of months. The NPPA can invoke Paragraph 19 of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) of 2013 to fix the prices of drugs, which are of public interest.
Innovator Gilead Life Sciences had licensed Remdesivir, an investigational drug which has been issued an Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients suffering from severe symptoms of coronavirus. In June 2020, Zydus had entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Gilead Sciences along with other manufacturers to make this drug. The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for the drug has been developed and manufactured at the group's API manufacturing facilities in Gujarat.
Zydus was the first to ramp up production of HCQ and Dexamethasone, two other drugs used in COVID-19 treatment in India. It is also conducting clinical trials with Pegylated Interferon Alpha 2b and Desidustat for the treatment and management of coronavirus. Zydus says it has also made nearly 3 lakh COVID Kavach Elisa diagnostic tests for surveillance. The group's plasmid DNA vaccine ZyCoV-D is now in Phase II of the Adaptive Phase I and II clinical trials.
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