Sun Pharma latest to sell COVID-19 drug favipiravir in India

Favipiravir, along with another antiviral, remdesivir, has emerged as one of the most sought-after drugs at hospitals fighting COVID-19 in India

  
A guard walks inside the office of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in Mumbai, India, November 13, 2018.

A guard walks inside the office of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in Mumbai, India, November 13, 2018.

Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas

BENGALURU - India's Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Tuesday it would soon begin selling its version of favipiravir, becoming the latest generic drugmaker to supply the antiviral to treat COVID-19 in the world's third worst-hit nation.

Favipiravir, along with another antiviral, remdesivir, has emerged as one of the most sought-after drugs at hospitals fighting COVID-19 in India, which saw a surge of 50,000-plus infections for the sixth straight day on Tuesday.

Sun's version of favipiravir, to be called FluGuard, will cost 35 rupees (47 cents) per 200 mg tablet, making it the cheapest version available. Stocks will be available from this week.

Shares in Sun Pharma, one of the world's largest generic drug manufacturers, climbed after the news and were last up 1.7% in an upbeat Mumbai market. .BO

Favipiravir was originally developed by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp as Avigan. Once hyped as a potential COVID-19 treatment by Japan's prime minister, Avigan faces uncertain prospects in the country, dampened by disappointing clinical studies.

Still, Indian regulators gave emergency approval to favipiravir in June in an effort to tackle the "urgent and unmet" need for COVID-19 treatments in the country.

Separately, another Indian drugmaker, Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, on Monday announced the launch of its version of remdesivir, priced at 4,700 rupees per 100 mg vial. Jubilant is among the companies producing the drug under licence from U.S.-based Gilead Sciences Inc. 

Global coronavirus cases have crossed 18.3 million, resulting in close to 694,000 deaths. India has a caseload of over 1.8 million, the third biggest, behind the United States and Brazil.

($1 = 75.0160 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta) ((saisachin.r@tr.com; +91 80 6182 2754; Twitter: @sachinr27))

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