Every other day, there are talks about drugs like Favipiravir and Remdesivir. Seems like the fast mover, India’s very own anti-malarial medication Hydroxychloroquine, has lost the battle against COVID-19. One major reason Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have fallen back in the race to cure humans of COVID-19 is because new findings (after conducting trials) are claiming it is not having desirable results.
Let’s have a look at some of the fast movers and much-talked COVID-19 drugs and their uses:
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine
This is the drug for which US president Donald Trump warned India of retaliation by the United States if India did not allow its export. This was the same drug Trump called a game-changer. While the initial study in the lab settings showed it may be able to prevent the virus from replicating, it did not prove its worth when trials were conducted on a select group of people. While this drug was the fastest mover in the first few weeks of COVID 19, it has now lost ground. With India being the largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, it is safe to say India's dream to flood the world (obviously after serving its people) with this drug has fallen short. This is mainly because there are other drugs that are fighting to show their worth too.
This is the antiviral drug which was used to treat influenza in Japan. In the times of COVID-19, this drug was talked about and could have taken the fast mover status even before Hydroxychloroquine. However, it did not get that traction it should despite the fact that China had used this drug to treat its COVID-19 patients. Toyama Chemical (Fujifilm group) developed and manufactured the drug, had got requisite approvals to use it in Japan in 2014. However, Fujifilm Group licensed its API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) to China-based Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Co a few years later.
If this drug receives the approvals from India authorities, it will be marketed under the name ‘FabiFlu’ in India.
While Global pharmaceutical company, Glenmark, has initiated phase three clinical trials in India on Favipiravir, there are reports that suggest that Union health ministry is still not convinced with the efficacy of this drug.
Yet another drug that is making headlines is Remdesivir. Just like Favipiravir, Remdesivir has not hit the right chord among the Indian authorities. So, it will be another challenge for the US-based company Gilead Sciences to sell this drug in India. The company has signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with five generic drug makers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of its experimental COVID-19 treatment. But two health advocacy groups have written to the Indian government asking it to revoke patents given to Gilead Sciences for the drug. These groups believe revoking the patent will allow poorer countries to distribute this drug fairly among its people. The US food and drug regulatory body has allowed the emergency use of this drug due to promising results of early trials.
As part of multiple drug therapy for the novel coronavirus, other than Remdesivir, Mumbai-based drug maker Cipla is also looking at anti-HIV drug combinations — Lopinavir and Ritonavir, for treatment. So, this drug is still a contender but not in par with Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, Favipiravir and Remdesivir. According to a study conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine, this treatment did not show any observable benefit for severe COVID-19 patients. However, the research found that triple antiviral therapy of interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin is safe and appears to be superior to lopinavir-ritonavir monotherapy in early COVID-19 patients.
This immunosuppressive drug is mainly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a severe form of arthritis in children. Now, this drug is administered on severe COVID-19 pneumonia patients. Other than India, the United States has been conducting trials on this drug. Meanwhile, BMC medical college hospitals like Sion, Nair, KEM and Seven Hills have started administering the Tocilizumab injection. So far the drug has been used on approximately 40 severe COVID-19 patients. The results have been encouraging among more than 30 patients and 14 patients had already recovered and discharged from the hospitals.