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Cipla Ltd is gearing up to expand its wide portfolio of covid-19 drugs over the next two months with the expected launch of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s antibody cocktail and the generic of baricitinib through voluntary licenses from Merck and Eli Lilly, the company’s chief financial officer Kedar Upadhye said on Sunday.

“In terms of launch timelines, the antibody cocktail is immediate. Hopefully, we would be able to launch the cocktail in the next few days, subject to import, and the next one is baricitinib because that is for an approved product and is subject to the innovator (Eli Lilly) getting clearance from the DCGI and we will also have to conduct some studies," Upadhye said in an interview.

Roche had earlier this month received an emergency authorization for its partner Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab for treating people with mild-to-moderate infection who are at high risk of hospitalization.

The Swiss firm expanded its partnership with Cipla for exclusive distribution of the imported drug in India.

Cipla was also among the five domestic firms to sign a voluntary licensing pact with Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) for production of molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral agent. MSD, in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutic, is currently conducting a phase 3 trial for the drug in mild-to-moderate covid-19.

The other voluntary license holders for the drug are Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries. Upadhye said the launch of molnupiravir is likely to take time as it will first have to complete its phase 3 trial in the US and then get an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration, following which MSD would have to get an authorization from the Indian drug regulator.

Final data from the Merck outpatient phase 3 portion of the study for molnupiravir is expected by October, with the earliest possible submission for an EUA in the US seen in the second half of 2021, Merck has said. Cipla has currently the largest portfolio of covid-19 drugs among Indian pharmaceutical companies. The portfolio includes remdesivir, favipiravir, azithromycin as well as tocilizumab.

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