Scientists have found a ray of hope in U.S. biopharmaceutical firm’s antiviral drug Remdesivir. There is a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in India and around the world. Initially it was used for the deadly Ebola virus five years ago. But has now shown promise by modestly speeding recovery from COVID-19, experts said.
A study was conducted by the tracker maintained by the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank in the US. It said, more than 130 drugs are under experimentation to treat COVID-19. Some may have the potential to stop the virus while others may help calm overactive immune responses that damage organs.
“Right now, there is only one effective approach which is to repurpose already approved drugs for other diseases if they can be used for COVID-19. One example is remdesivir,” Ram Vishwakarma, Director of the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, CSIR, Jammu, told PTI.
Remdesivir is helping people recover faster, and is lowering the death rate among critically ill patients. It can be life-saving, we do not have time to develop new drugs and new drug development takes five-10 years. So we are using existing drugs and conducting clinical trials to find if any of them are effective, Vishwakarma said.
Molecules available for treating HIV or other viral infections can be quickly checked against the novel coronavirus, he explained. If found effective, they can be used against COVID-19 with the appropriate approval from drug control bodies.
When drug company Gilead Sciences sought to begin clinical trials for remdesivir, it immediately got approval from the US FDA.
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INDIA in talks to manufacture Remdesivir
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories on Saturday said it has signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences. The agreement will be to register manufacture and sell the U.S. biopharmaceutical firm’s antiviral drug remdesivir. The drug has emerged as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
Biocon firm Syngene and Zydus Cadila Healthcare have also entered into similar agreements with Gilead. They get to manufacture the product for distribution in 127 countries.
They join Hetero Labs, Jubilant Lifesciences, and Mylan, who had signed the agreement last month with Gilead.
An investigational antiviral therapy, remdesivir has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to treat COVID-19. Phase 3 clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the drug are underway. In India, the Union Health Ministry had recently cleared remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use.
Other drugs are also under trial
Some drugs developed to treat HIV, such as lopinavir and ritonavir, are also being tested to cure COVID-19, Vishwakarma said.