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Coronavirus treatment: Hyderabad-based IICT develops lab process to produce Favipiravir; signs deal with Cipla

Coronavirus treatment: Hyderabad-based IICT develops lab process to produce Favipiravir; signs deal with Cipla

The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), which comes under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), is now transferring the technology (lab process) it has developed to pharma companies

Cipla now has the task cut out to procure  raw materials and start production Cipla now has the task cut out to procure raw materials and start production

The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) has developed a lab process to produce favipiravir, an anti-retroviral drug considered to be effective against influenza viruses. Countries such as China, Japan, Russia are using favipiravir in the treatment of coronavirus.

Hyderabad-based IICT, which comes under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), is now transferring the technology (lab process) it has developed to pharma companies.  

"Favipiravir has been used extensively in China and Japan, IICT has developed a lab process to make it into a drug and is in the process of transferring this technology to Cipla," IICT director Dr S Chandrasekhar told BusinessToday.In.

Chandrasekhar said the deal with Cipla was non-exclusive and IICT could offer the technology to other companies. The Mumbai-headquartered pharma major now has the task cut out to procure  raw materials and start production. Raw materials are required in large quantities as the dosage is high for the drug. Some of the raw materials will have to be imported from China.

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Even though there's excitement around Cipla starting production, the process is not simple. Cipla will have to first make 'validation batches' that have to be studied before they produce the tablets. Once the tablets are ready, they need to be checked for stability and a bioequivalence in accordance to the originator product - in this case Avigan, a drug made by Fujifilm in Japan.

Since the government agencies fighting coronavirus will need the drugs, regulatory clearances for import of raw materials and production process are likely to be fast tracked.

The availably of the drug will depend on how quickly the raw materials are sourced. If the production requirement is limited only for procurement by government agencies, then it could be available in about four months. In case of a higher demand, more companies may have to either pitch in or Cipla will have to create additional capacities.

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Favipiravir is one of the several drugs doctors are resorting to for coronavirus treatment. Equally important, and perhaps more in the limelight, is another antiviral Remdesivir. Global major Gilead Sciences is working on the production of Remdesivir. There is also the much-talked about Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, used in treatment of immunological diseases such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, there is no conclusive evidence on the efficacy of these drugs in curing coronavirus infection.