Date: 04-Feb-2020

Pharma companies set to supply ARVs for ‘treatment’

MUMBAI: Leading domestic drug companies have said they are ready with supply of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) that seem to work in treating the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Though there is no formal cure discovered to treat the virus, the treatment protocol established in China and confirmation by physicians in Thailand show that a combination of Lopanvir and Ritonavir, old generation drugs used to treat HIV, along with flu medication Oseltamivir, has worked on patients. Indian generic companies, who are among the largest manufacturers of ARVs, said they are prepared to supply these drugs to the government if need arises. “We have developed and filed for an approval of these. If there is a need we are geared up to supply,” Satyanarayana Chava, chief executive, Laurus Labs, one of the leading active pharma ingredient manufacturers of anti-HIV medicines in theDrug maker Cipla also said it is ready to supply these drugs if required. Though the government has not yet reached out to companies with a request, Chava said, “There is a small quantity and enough API and formulations available.” The current treatment protocol has found that every patient needs 28 tablets. Pune-based Emcure, another manufacturer of ARVs, also said it has stock of the products. Namita Thapar, its executive director, told ET the company was evaluating its capacity and turnaround time in case it was approached with any specific requirement. Mumbai-based BDR Pharma, which exports anti-HIV and oncology drugs, said it was closely “monitoring” the outbreak and preparing in case there is a demand for procuring the drug. However, since ARVs are not usually sold in private markets, companies work according to tender requirement. BDR managing director Dharmesh Shah said that since there is no inventory with companies, there might be a need to shift orders assigned to other markets. “We gauged what kind of need might come up. Based on that, in a short span we can be prepared with production… Some buffer stocks prepared for other markets can be transferred here, so priorities can be changed,” said Shah. While India has not yet come out with any treatment protocols for the disease, experts have said there is no good description of clinical cases to determine if those infected are sick enough to be administered medication.