Favipiravir exports during COVID-19 outbreak reaffirm India’s position as ‘pharmacy to the world’, says GlobalData

Following the news that India-based Strides Pharma has developed and commenced the export of generic favipiravir antiviral tablets to potentially treat COVID-19 infection;

Sasmitha Sahu, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“This is an opportunity to reaffirm that India is indeed the ‘pharmacy to the world’. As the world looks to use repurposed drugs to manage COVID-19 until the development of an effective and safe vaccine, India has been playing a pivotal role by supplying some of the key drugs like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and paracetamol under humanitarian aid and commercial basis.

“Initial studies on oral favipiravir, a direct inhibitor of viral RNA polymerase, demonstrated reduction in viral loads in as early as four days and improved pulmonary function in COVID-19 patients. It was also effective during Ebola and influenza outbreaks. However, the risks vs. benefits are being further evaluated in numerous trials around the world.

“According to GlobalData’s COVID-19 Executive Briefing report, favipiravir is the fourth most evaluated repurposed drug after HCQ, lopinavir/ritonavir combination, and recombinant interferon. Favipiravir ± additional drugs is currently being investigated in 28* trials in COVID-19 patients across various locations, including the US, Japan and China.

“With Strides entering into collaboration with local API suppliers, the likelihood of supply chain issues is also minimised. With some of the largest generics and formulation manufacturing facilities based in India, its ability to scale up local API manufacturing and export HCQ to over 50 countries earlier and generic favipiravir now is likely to bolster the country’s potential to meet global pharma demand.”

*As of 26 April 2020

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