An anti-viral drug, which, according to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, has shown “clear-cut” evidence of helping Covid-19 patients recover is among three treatment options recommended for trials in patients in Karnataka by a state technical expert committee.
The drug, Remdesivir, produced by the American pharma firm Gilead Sciences, was declared as having a significant positive effect in speeding up the recovery of patients by Dr Fauci Wednesday — after an NIAID-sponsored trial on about 1090 patients in the US and Europe.
Remdesivir, costing around Rs 70,000 per dose in India, was recommended among three trial treatment options for patients in Karnataka earlier this month by a technical expert committee headed by the vice-chancellor of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Dr S Sacchidanand. The committee is advising the government on treatment options.
“We have recommended Remdesivir which is an anti-viral drug that will be made available by the pharma firm, an anti-infection drug called Sepsivac which can control the cytokine storm reported in Covid 19 cases, and plasma therapy which has received ICMR approval for trials in many places,” Dr Sacchidanand said.
The technical expert committee considered various treatment options, which have been backed by strong scientific evidence of efficacy, including internationally published research work to arrive at recommendations for treatment options, Dr Sacchidanand added.
The recommendation for usage of Remdesivir in Covid 19 patients in Karnataka even prior to the declaration of the NIAID study results in the US on Wednesday was made on the basis of findings from smaller studies, including a study on around 61 patients from the US, Europe, Canada and Japan, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 10.
The study, published in the NEJM by Jonathan Grein, from the Cedars–Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and others, titled `Compassionate use of Remdesivir for Patients with severe Covid 19′ reported that “clinical improvement was observed in 36 of 53 patients (68%)”.
“The Karnataka government will initiate usage of the drugs in trials after communicating with the ICMR and the central government as was done with plasma therapy, ” another doctor on the technical expert committee said.
Doctors treating patients at the Victoria Hospital – a main hospital for Covid 19 patients in Bengaluru said the two drugs recommended by the expert committee are yet to be used for treatment of patients in Karnataka.
The second drug Sepsivac has moved into a trial phase last week, with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) initiating a study.
A doctor from the Bangalore Institute of Oncology, Dr Vishal Rao, has obtained clearances to carry out plasma therapy trials in Karnataka and has entered into an MoU with the Bangalore Medical College and Research Insitute – which houses the Covid 19 designated Victoria Hospital – for access to Covid 19 recovered plasma donors and critically ill patients.
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