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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Dr Reddy’s sets Covid drug price at Rs 990/sachet

DRL will supply 2-DG to “major” government and private hospitals across the country, it said in its release. In the initial weeks, the drug will be available in hospitals across metros and tier-1 cities.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: June 29, 2021 12:58:54 am
The drug is available in powder form in a sachet, and can be taken orally after dissolving in water. (File photo)

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories on Monday announced the commercial launch of its Covid drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), setting the maximum retail price at Rs 990 a sachet. The Hyderabad-headquartered company will supply sachets of the drug at a “subsidised rate” to government institutions, it said.

DRL will supply 2-DG to “major” government and private hospitals across the country, it said in its release. In the initial weeks, the drug will be available in hospitals across metros and tier-1 cities. Subsequently, its coverage will be expanded to the rest of the country, it added.

The drug can be administered to hospitalised patients with moderate to severe Covid “only upon prescription and under the supervision of a qualified physician,” said the company. The oral drug will be used as an “adjunct therapy” — it will be provided in addition to existing standard of care.

2-DG, traditionally used as a cancer drug, inhibits glycolysis — the process by which cells break down the glucose that gives viruses the energy to replicate. Over the course of the last year, its use as a Covid-19 treatment tool had been studied in clinical trials conducted by DRL in collaboration with a body under the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

It was granted emergency approval by Drug Controller General of India Dr VG Somani in May and launched for limited use in specific government hospitals.

The drug, however, has raked up controversy, with experts seeking more clinical trial data to be able to make an informed decision over whether it is actually useful in reducing the recovery time and oxygen dependency for Covid patients.

Records show multiple attempts by DRL in 2020 to seek a speedy approval with truncated trials which were overruled by the Subject Experts Committee, the expert panel of the drug regulator.

New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hands over to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan the newly launched anti-COVID drug 2DG, developed by DRDO, in New Delhi, Monday, May 17, 2021.

The SEC cited lack of sufficient evidence to greenlight such a clearance without adequate human testing. Following phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials, the regulator granted restricted permission for emergency use on May 1.

The promise of 2-DG as a therapeutic tool finds mention in at least five papers, including by German, Brazilian and US scientists published last year, but none draws from testing in actual hospital settings.

The version launched in India, offered by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) with DRL, is linked to a paper written in March 2020 by a team led predominantly by members of Haridwar-based Patanjali Research Institute. The non-peer reviewed paper was posted on ResearchGate with the lead author Acharya Balakrishna, chairman, Patanjali Ayurved. This pre-print was cited in the January-February 2021 issue of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Indian Journal of Medical Research.

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