After a good run, another drug Molnupiravir may be coming to relieve Remdesivir from all the pressure it has faced during the COVID-19 times. It is reported that MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme) Pharmaceuticals, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck & Co decided to enter into a non-exclusive licensing deal for antiviral drug Molnupiravir with five established Indian generic manufacturers.
The US drugmaker has inked agreements with Cipla, Dr Reddy's, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, stated a new report.
Difference between Molnupiravir and Remdesivir
Firstly, it is important to understand, these drugs are not COVID-19 specific drugs but antiviral drugs used to treat non-hospitalised or not so critical COVID-19 patients. These drugs were earlier used to treat other illness.
Molnupiravir: It is the latest entrant in the Indian market. MSD Pharmaceuticals has voluntarily licensed this drug to five Indian generic drug manufacturers.
In December 2020, US-based researchers discovered that the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 or Molnupiravir, had completely suppressed the virus transmission within 24 hours. This drug will be useful at a time when the COVID-19 variant B.1.617 also called 'double mutant' is found in India. This variant is expected to be highly infectious.
According to the study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the research team from Georgia State University (GSU) originally discovered that the drug is potent against influenza viruses.
This drug is also surrounded with controversy. It is alleged that this drug could cause harmful genetic mutations. In April 2020, a whistleblower complaint by former Head of US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) revealed concerns over providing funding for the further development of Molnupiravir due to similar drugs having mutagenic (DNA damaging) properties.
Remdesivir: It is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication developed by the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Remdesivir was approved or authorised for emergency use to treat COVID‑19 in around 50 countries.
Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Hepatitis C. It was subsequently used for Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus infections.
According to a report, Remdesivir may be effective in reducing recovery time in patients with severe Covid-19. It is also stated that the drug probably has no important effect on the need for mechanical ventilation and may have little or no effect on the length of hospital stay.
The drug manufacturing companies in India producing Gilead’s Remdesivir are Cipla Ltd; Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd.; Hetero Labs Ltd; Jubilant Lifesciences; Mylan; Syngene; and Zydus Cadila Healthcare Ltd.