Hyderabad-based drugmaker Hetero, which has approval to manufacture and market the generic version of the experimental COVID-19 drug Remdesivir, has sent 20,000 vials to five states including Maharashtra and Delhi - the two worst affected states in the country.
Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are the other two states that will receive the first batch of the drug which is being marketed under the brand name COVIFOR in India. Telangana’s capital Hyderabad, where the drugmaker is based, will also receive the first consignment.
Hetero said a 100-milligram vial of the drug will cost Rs 5,400. The recommended dose for adults and pediatric patients is 200 mg on Day 1 followed by once daily maintenance doses of 100 mg for five days.
The next batch of the drug will be shipped to Kolkata, Indore, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Vijayawada, Kochi, Trivandrum and Goa.
The company has set a target to produce one lakh vials of the drug in three-four weeks.
Currently, the drug is being manufactured at the company’s formulation facility in Hyderabad. The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is being made in the firm’s Visakhapatnam facility, news agency PTI reported.
The drug will be available only through hospitals and government, and not via retail, Hetero Group of Companies MD Vamsi Krishna Bandi said.
“Drug will not be given to those with liver disease, kidney failure, pregnant or lactating women, and children below 12 years,” Mr Bandi told NDTV.
Drugmaker Cipla has also signed a licensing agreement with US-based Gilead Sciences Inc - the original manufacturer of Remdesivir - to make and sell the drug. Cipla has said its antiviral drug Remdesivir would be priced below Rs 5,000.
Regulator Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the generic versions made by Cipla and Hetero for restricted emergency use in severe COVID-19 cases.
The treatment was the first to show improvement in trials on COVID-19 patients and has won approval for emergency use in severely ill patients in the United States and South Korea, and received full approval in Japan. It is yet to be priced in the United States.
This morning, India, the fourth worst hit nation by the coronavirus, reported a total of 4.73 lakh infections and 14,894 deaths. Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh together account for over 80 per cent of deaths in the country linked to the virus.