Medicine for coronavirus: 6 more drug makers await govt approvals

Dhaka Tribune 7 April 2020 Niaz Mahmud 6 Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies Logos of Incepta Pharmaceuticals, Eskayef Pharmaceuticals, Delta Pharma, Veritas Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Ziska Pharmaceuticals Limited The companies are Incepta Pharmaceuticals, Eskayef Pharmaceuticals, Delta Pharma, Veritas Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Ziska Pharmaceuticals Limited Six more local drug makers have sought preliminary approvals of the Drug Administration to produce Favipiravir amid the upsurge of coronavirus outbreak in the country after Beximco Pharmaceuticals and Beacon Pharmaceuticals got the go-ahead. The companies are- Incepta Pharmaceuticals, Eskayef Pharmaceuticals, Delta Pharma, Veritas Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Ziska Pharmaceuticals Limited, top sources at the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) have told Dhaka Tribune. Earlier, Beximco Pharmaceuticals and Beacon Pharmaceuticals produced Favipiravir, an antiviral drug that is being used by China to treat Covid-19 patients. The drug was prepared and handed over to the DGDA for testing and final approvals. The DGDA gave them preliminary approvals on Sunday, it was learnt. The companies concerned could produce the drug for commercial purpose once they got final approvals of the higher authorities, sources said. Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings, developed Avigan, their version of Favipiravir, originally meant to treat influenza. It was later found in Chinese clinical testing to be effective against Covid-19, international media reported. Fujifilm announced recently it launched clinical trials to test Avigan’s effectiveness against the virus and was  preparing to ramp up production. Major General Md. Mahbubur Rahman, Director General of DGDA told Dhaka Tribune, “We have received applications and samples from some more local pharmaceuticals companies. Now we are conducting tests on their samples. They will be approved once the test results become positive”. “We gave preliminary approvals to Beximco and Beacon, and forwarded their cases to Drug Control Committee, headed by health secretary, for final approvals,” he added. Typically, the committee determines medicines’ prices, examine their expiry dates and qualities. Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Chairman and Managing Director of  Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd Abdul Muktadir told Dhaka Turbine, “We hope to get the preliminary approval by next week”. Incepta Pharmaceuticals stopped exporting Hydroxychloroquine under the brand name ‘Reconil’ to meet the possible huge local demand to fight COVID-19 in the country,  Muktadir added. Incepta scaled up production of the medicine as it showed worthiness in some cases to treat the coronavirus disease, he added. Abdul Muktadir also said many countries showed their interests to import Reconil from Incepta. “But, we are not interested to export right now considering our domestic demand.” Managing director of Delta Pharma Dr. Md. Zakir Hossain said the raw materials of the medicine were expensive in the world market. “If we get approval, we will sell the medicine without profit to help recover the local COVID-9 patients.” Pharmaceutical sector insiders said Favipiravir was a patented drug in Japan, but Bangladesh, as a least developed country (LDC), could produce and market the medicine until 2033 under the relaxed patent rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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