2 min read.Updated: 19 Aug 2020, 07:15 PM ISTLeroy Leo
The launch is part of Dr Reddy’s pact with the drug’s Japan-based innovator firm Fujifilm, under which the Hyderabad-based drugmaker has the rights to manufacture, sell and distribute Avigan tablets in India
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd on Wednesday announced the launch of the innovator brand of favipiravir ‘Avigan’ at 99 rupees per tablet, a premium compared to existing generic brands already in the market.
The launch is part of Dr Reddy’s pact with the drug’s Japan-based innovator firm Fujifilm, under which the Hyderabad-based drugmaker has the rights to manufacture, sell and distribute Avigan tablets in India as well as export it to all countries globally, barring Japan, China and Russia, M V Ramana, chief executive officer for branded markets (india and emerging markets), said at a press conference.
Dr Reddy’s will import the drug from FujiFilm initially, and in about three months, would start producing its own product through a technology transfer, the company said. Dr Reddy’s also plans to export the drug to other countries.
The company has priced ‘Avigan’ at a 32% premium as compared to the most expensive brand of favipiravir, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd’s ‘FabiFlu’, which costs ₹75 per pill. Glenmark’s ‘FabiFlu’ was the first favipiravir brand launched in India.
An entire course of favipiravir consists of 122 tablets of 200 mg each over two weeks. So Dr Reddy’s ‘Avigan’ is expected to price a little over ₹12,000 per course.
In contrast, the cheapest favipiravir brand is Sun Pharmaceutical Ltd’s ‘FluGuard’, which costs ₹4,270 for an entire course, or ₹35 per tablet.
The management of Dr Reddy’s in a press conference on Wednesday said that the innovator brand has a longer shelf life of two years as compared to just three months for some of the generic drugs.
Glenmark Pharmaceuticals had earlier said that initially when the company had launched the product, the shelf life was about three months as early launch had shortened the period for stability testing but now FabiFlu’s shelf life is over a year.
Dr Reddy’s is also conducting a 700-patient randomised control trial in Kuwait to test for the efficacy of the drug in treatment of mild-to-moderate covid-19.
While favipiravir has emergency use authorisations for the drug to treat mild-to-moderate covid-19 in several countries like India, Japan and Russia, the regulatory move was based on a large observational study in Japan of around 2,000 patients and several small randomised control studies, including a 150-patient phase-III trial by Glenmark.
This has led to criticism by certain experts that there is not enough evidence to support the use of favipiravir, especially as many studies showed that while the drug was able to reduce the time for treatment, it was not able to clear viral load as effectively.
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