India-based Cipla has plans to explore the use of multi-drug combination, including Gilead Sciences’ investigational antiviral drug remdesivir, for the treatment of Covid-19 coronavirus infection.
In an interview with Livemint news agency, Cipla chief financial officer Kedar Upadhye said that the company intends to assess a combination of zinc, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, lopinavir-ritonavir and favipiravir, among other drugs.
Upadhye was quoted as saying: “We are trying all avenues. We are attempting to come to the service of patients and try to see which molecule is more effective. We are trying through all ways. I think we will attack Covid-19 through multiple ways.”
Cipla is among the five companies that entered a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead last week to manufacture and distribute remdesivir for Covid-19 patients in 127 countries, including India and South Africa.
The company also exclusively markets Roche’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra, under the brand name tocilizumab, in India. The anti-inflammatory drug is currently being tested as potential Covid-19 treatment in India as well as international markets.
Upadhye noted: “Cipla is the sole agent of Roche’s anti-inflammatory drug Actemra in India, which can be used in patients with severe lung problems.
“It is one of the possible treatment options being explored for Covid-19 in addition to remdesivir, favipiravir, and lopinavir and ritonavir. The drug (Actemra) is currently undergoing clinical trials worldwide.”
Last month, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) announced the transfer of its process to produce favipiravir to Cipla, along with significant quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Livemint added that Cipla is seeking the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approval to launch favipiravir in India. The company plans to conduct a clinical trial prior to potentially marketing the antiviral drug under the brand Ciplenza.