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COVID-19: India Follows Russia In Expedited Approval Of Favipiravir
Published : June 2020

The world has been experimenting with numerous drugs ever since COVID-19 broke out, and we are yet to reach any conclusion. And, once the patent on Favipiravir expired, there has been a spike in the number of pharmaceutical organizations trying out the drub and other derivatives of it to look for answers. Recently Russia approved Avifavir, a derivative of Favipiravir, for the treatment of COVID-19. Now, India is following suit. The Government of India is looking towards approval of Favipiravir so as to make the antiviral drug available in the market for treatment of COVID-19. 

What Is Favipiravir? 

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug that was first developed by Japan’s Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Ltd. For the treatment of flu. This anti-influenza medication prevents the further replication of the viral strain within the patient’s body and thus helps with the treatment. Ever since the patent expired, the world is looking towards using the drug or its derivatives to see how effective it is against COVID-19. 

Russia Shows Promise With Avifavir

Favipiravir, the generic version of Avifavir, already is a known drug against the treatment of influenza. Russia recently approved the use of Avifavir on patients that tested COVID-19 positive, and, as per reports till now, there is some hope. Russia saw a reduced recovery time among 60% of the patients suffering from COVID-19 after the use of Avifavir. This has been one of the rare good news at a time when the world is grasping at straws while trying to find a treatment for COVID-19. 

Remdesivir Story In India

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) earlier approved the use of Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 in India. However, this is reserved for restricted emergency treatment only at the moment. The treatment is 5 days long and only experienced medical practitioners are allowed to administer the approved dosage of the drug. Hence, at the moment, India is dabbling in one drug, and looking ahead towards another one, as the potential treatment for COVID-19. 

Glenmark Conducts Trials With Favipiravir

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At the same time when India is considering granting expedited approval for Favipiravir, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is continuing stage three trial of the drug in the country. The pharmaceutical giant seems quite positive about the benefits of using the drug on COVID-19 patients and expects DCGI approval to be available soon. 

DCGI Awaits Concrete Evidence

As per sources within the Government, DCGI is waiting for some concrete evidence about the benefits of Favipiravir before giving it a nod of approval in India. From what can be seen in Russia, that nod is going to come sooner than later. Once the approval is provided, it will be interesting to see how the anti-flu drug, repurposed for the treatment of COVID-19, fairs in India. 

It must be mentioned, that as per data from the scientific world, the COVID-19 viral strain has been mutating quite often. The multiple strains of the virus are making it particularly difficult for the researchers to create one drug to treat every patient, and medical practitioners are relying on symptomatic treatment as of now without having any means of checking the growth of the virus. 

Update: Glenmark Receives Approval Of DCGI For Favipiravir 

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals finally received the approval of Drug Controller General Of India (DCGI) for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The approval was provided on an emergency basis keeping in view the growing cases of COVID-19 across India. However, the drug has been approved for “restricted emergency use only”. This means that the patients will have to sign a consent form before they are administered the drug. As per Glenmark, Favipiravir will be used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 infections only. 

Favipiravir Cost In India

Glenmark is marketing the Favipiravir drug under the name FaviFlu in India for the treatment of COVID-19. Each tablet is being sold at Rs.103 at present. After approval from DCGI, two other pharmaceutical companies, namely Cipla and Strides, are expected to come out with their own Favipiravir drugs soon in India. This is expected to bring down the cost of the drug in the market. 

With India’s number of COVID-19 cases on a sharp rise, and the death toll also going up, people are waiting eagerly for some good news. If Russia is to be taken as reference, Favipiravir might just give the necessary relief amidst all the crises.