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Indian generics makers begin to dispatch remdesivir Posted 24/07/2020

Generic drugmakers Hetero and Cipla are among the first Indian manufacturers to dispatch a generic version of the investigational COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, which was originally developed by Gilead Sciences.

The American firm Gilead Sciences signed licensing agreements with five generic drug manufacturers earlier in 2020 [1] for its anti-viral drug remdesivir.

Data suggest remdesivir may shorten the time taken to recover from COVID-19 and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for its use during the pandemic in May 2020.

Generic drugmaker Hetero received approval from the Drug Controller General of India to manufacture and sell its remdesivir product in June and has already dispatched its first batch of 10,000 vials. The drug is given by injection and must be administered in hospital.

Hetero’s generic remdesivir product is being sold under the brand name Covifor. The company is set to dispatch an estimated 100,000 vials in total in its first month of supply.

Managing Director of Hetero Healthcare, M Srinivasa Reddy, said in a statement:

‘Through Covifor, we hope to reduce the treatment time of a patient in a hospital, thereby reducing the increasing pressure on the medical infrastructure, overburdened currently due to accelerating COVID-19 infection rates. We are working closely with the Government and Medical Community to make “Covifor” quickly accessible to both public and private healthcare settings across the country’.

Hetero has priced Covifor at a retail price per vial of around US$70, compared to a US$67 per vial for Cipla’s competitor product. Each patient will require six vials of remdesivir in total, making the comparative prices $435 and $400, respectively.

Cipla’s product will be sold under the brand name Cipremi. A spokesperson for Cipla said: ‘In line with our overall philosophy of driving access and affordability, the drug will be priced at less than Rs 5,000 per vial for 100 mg injection – among the lowest pricing for Remdesivir globally’.

Some sources suggest Cipla may price the drug as low as US$322 for a course of treatment.

Additional drugmakers, including Jubilant Pharma, Mylan, Cadila Healthcare and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, will also launch generic remdesivir products, which may cause prices to fall further.

Beyond remdesivir, there are a number of other drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 currently under investigation [2], including some existing anti-inflammatory treatments such as biosimilar infliximab.

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References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. COVID-19 drugs: Gilead’s remdesivir and Algernon’s alternative [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 July 24]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/News/COVID-19-drugs-Gilead-s-remdesivir-and-Algernon-s-alternative
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. COVID-19 drug trials underway [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 July 24]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/COVID-19-drug-trials-underway

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