India's Lupin to sell generic COVID-19 drug favipiravir

Favipiravir has shown promise in clinical trials in India and Russia,

  
Tablets of Avigan (generic name : Favipiravir), a drug approved as an anti-influenza drug in Japan and developed by drug maker Toyama Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Co. are displayed during a photo opportunity at Fujifilm's headquarters in Tokyo October 22, 2014.

Tablets of Avigan (generic name : Favipiravir), a drug approved as an anti-influenza drug in Japan and developed by drug maker Toyama Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Co. are displayed during a photo opportunity at Fujifilm's headquarters in Tokyo October 22, 2014.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

BENGALURU - Lupin Ltd on Wednesday became the latest Indian drugmaker to launch a version of the antiviral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19 in the world's third most affected country.

A slew of generic drug manufacturers including Cipla Ltd, Sun Pharma and Hetero Labs have been developing favipiravir after India approved it as an as emergency treatment for mild to moderate COVID-19.

Indian hospitals have suffered a shortage of critical COVID-19 drugs such as remdesivir in recent weeks, but the bottlenecks are expected to ease soon as manufacturers ramp up production.

Favipiravir has shown promise in clinical trials in India and Russia, but faces uncertain prospects in Japan, where it was originally developed by Fujifilm Holdings 4901.T , after disappointing clinical studies.

Lupin's version of the drug, called Covihalt, will be priced at 49 rupees (65 cents) per 200 mg-tablet, it said. Sun Pharma on Tuesday launched its own version, at 35 rupees, so far the cheapest in India. 

Shares in Lupin, one of India's top generic drug makers, were little changed in midday trading.

Coronavirus infections in India topped 1.9 million on Wednesday, after rising by more than 50,000 for seven straight days. The country has the world's third most affected after the United States and Brazil.

($1 = 74.8800 Indian rupees)

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

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