Hyderabad-headquartered Hetero and Mumbai-based pharma major Cipla have both received an approval from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to launch a coronavirus drug in India on Saturday. Cipla is hoping to launch it in a couple of days and price it between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 per dose. Hetero's drug is expected to hit the market in a week and the firm intends to price it between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000 per dose.
According to the current Indian government guidelines, a patient may typically require in all around 5 to 6 doses, Hetero spokesperson said. Therefore, the total treatment could cost, depending on the drug and its pricing, anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 36,000. A note issued by Hetero, announcing "the manufacturing and marketing approval for the investigational antiviral medicine 'Remdesivir' from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for the treatment of Covid-19", says this "generic version of Remdesivir" will be marketed under the brand name 'COVIFOR' in India.
"In the light of increasing COVID-19 cases in India, the approval of 'COVIFOR' (Remdesivir) can prove to be a game-changer given its positive clinical outcomes. Backed by strong backward integration capabilities, we can ensure that the product is immediately made available to patients across the country. We are prepared for ensuring enough stocks required to cater to the present needs," the note quotes B Partha Saradhi Reddy, Chairman, Hetero Group of Companies, as saying.
Businesstoday.In learns from both companies that the drug will be made available only in hospitals and and to healthcare entities. It will not be commercially in the market as its use has been strictly guided by physicians and the competent medical authorities. The trials on the drug are still on globally. Currently, experts say, the drug has shown that it helps to reduce hospitalisation by about 30 per cent and some countries, including India, now have allowed its use with caution.
The Hetero note says, "Remdesivir has been granted approval by DCGI for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in adults and children, hospitalised with severe symptoms of the disease. COVIFOR (Remdesivir) will be available in 100 mg vial (Injectable) which has to be administered intravenously in a hospital setting under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner."
The product by both companies is being launched under a licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc to expand access to COVID-19 treatment in low and middle-income countries.