Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) former Director-General Dr. Nirmal K Ganguly has said that India can easily do the synthesis of the new antiviral drug Remdesivir if allowed by the US-based pharma company Gilead Sciences. The American Pharma major is now in touch with several Indian Pharmaceutical Companies and is exploring various avenues, even possibly for open licensing of this drug.
"With a little help from the government, this drug will be available very quickly. The synthesis of this drug is not very difficult. If Gilead allows, India can make it available and do its own trials as well. It is a big thing altogether," said Dr. Ganguly, while speaking to ANI, here on Saturday.
"The antiviral was created to treat RNA viruses — Marburg and Ebola. It, however, did not succeed then," he added.
Remdesivir is a nucleotide, which stops the RNA viral replication preventing the mutation and multiplication of the virus. It has, most importantly, lesser toxicity. However, Dr. Ganguly has pointed out a drawback in the drug. Remdivisir cannot be given as a tablet but has to be given through infusion, and the dose cannot be given outside the hospital.
"After the results are known, India will be able to use this drug as this is the largest randomised chemical trial," added Dr. Ganguly.
Dr. Ganguly also spoke about the much talked about drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) which India had exported to numerous countries after US President Donald Trump requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lifting export ban and send the medicine to the US as it was then seen as an only possible medicine to control the virus in the body. He opined that though the medicine did not significantly reduce fatality rates and FDA has taken it out from the list of compulsory drugs owing to the deaths, doesn't mean India cannot carry out trials.
"Hydroxychloroquine has an advantage of early viral load reduction if given to a normal person. However, in milder cases, close supervision is required. FDA has taken it out from the list of compulsory drugs owing to the deaths. Brazil and Sweden have banned it. However, it does not mean we cannot carry out trials with this drug," said Dr. Ganguly.
Gilead Sciences is now planning to conduct larger trials of Remdesivir in seven countries. Interestingly, Remdesivir effectively treats COVID-19 from both humans and animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specified that the drug can be used for both adults and children who are severely ill due to the Coronavirus with low blood oxygen levels or those who are on the ventilator.
(With ANI inputs)