As Glenmark Pharmaceuticals launched antiviral drug or COVID-19 Drug Favipiravir for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 cases, medical experts on Saturday cautioned against seeing it as a “magic bullet” to treat the deadly virus but said it will be helpful as it can be orally administered and reduce viral load.
They said the drug’s real efficacy would be known in the coming months.
Glenmark Pharmaceuticals said it has launched antiviral drug Favipiravir, under the brand name FabiFlu, for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 at a price of about Rs 103 per tablet.
FabiFlu is the first oral Favipiravir-approved medication in India for the treatment of COVID-19, it said in a statement.
“This drug was already being used in Japan for influenza. They have been using it in COVID-19 patients also. Even China was using it and Russia had also given permission in May to use it. Antiviral drugs like Remdesivir and Favipiravir are not specific to COVID-19 but were being used for influenza,” said Dr. Vikas Maurya, Director, Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
10 things to know about the new Covid-19 drug:
1) The recommended dose of Favipiravir is 1,800 mg twice daily on day one, followed by 800 mg twice daily up to day 14. It is a prescription-based medicine.
2) The drug will be available both through hospitals and the retail channel, Glenmark said.
3) Dr. Rommel Tickoo, Associate Director, Internal Medicine, Max Healthcare, said the drug could be a “potential game-changer”. “We don’t have much data, but whatever data we have shows that it is promising. We will have clearer information about the efficacy of the drug in the next two months. The preliminary report is promising which means that they (Glenmark) know that it works,” he told PTI. “It has to be given at an early stage and is a potential game-changer as it can be given in tablet form and thus is easy to administer, and is relatively inexpensive,” he said.
4) Glenmark is producing the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for the drug at its Ankleshwar plant, while the formulation is being manufactured at its Baddi plant.
5) Favipiravir can be used for coronavirus patients with co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, Glenmark said.
6) It offers a rapid reduction in viral load within four days and provides faster symptomatic and radiological improvement. Favipiravir has shown clinical improvement of up to 88 percent in mild to moderate COVID-19 cases, the drug manufacturer said.
7) Favipiravir is backed by strong clinical evidence, showing encouraging results in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19. It offers broad-spectrum RNA virus coverage with clinical improvement noted in 20-90 plus age group.
8) Glenmark was the first company in India to receive the drug regulator’s approval to conduct a phase-3 clinical trial of Favipiravir antiviral tablets for Covid-19 patients.