An affordable drug, Favipiravir is the only oral antiviral approved in India for coronavirus treatment.
To make the treatment for COVID-19 accessible for all, and to reduce the financial burden on patients, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has launched the oral antiviral tablet — Favipiravir 200 mg — under the name FluGuard. It is being sold for Rs 35 per tablet, for the treatment of mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in India.
Favipiravir, was originally developed by Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp under the brand name Avigan for treating influenza, and is the only oral antiviral treatment approved in India for the potential treatment of patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 disease.
According to an official statement released by the company, the stocks of FluGuard will be available in the market this week. It also states that the company will work closely with the government and medical community to ensure the availability of the medicine to patients across the country.
How will it help patients?
A senior doctor from Madras Medical College, who does not wish to be named, says that currently all COVID-19 patients are being treated using anti-viral tablets developed by other companies.
“This is not the sure way of treating COVID-19, but it is a way of treating viral infections. Very severe patients need different kinds of treatment, but when they are admitted, treatment usually begins with the administering of antiviral medicine. Though other pharmaceutical companies are developing the same tablet, the price is not the same. If something has been promised so cheaply, it will benefit patients, hospitals, and eventually the government.”
Highlighting the benefits of the medicine Favipiravir, Dr S Pandit of Mumbai says, “It is known to prevent viral replication and reduce the risk of progression of the disease thereby cutting down on the need of hospitalisation. It’s a drug that could be helpful in mild cases.”
But he also says it is important to never consume these medicines without the consultation of your physician. “Nobody is advised to purchase or consume these medicines without your doctor’s approval. The medicine is known to have side-effects, and can affect patients differently.”
Apart from Favipiravir, which is for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of coronavirus, Remdesivir, which is for patients on oxygen support, has also shown promising results for the treatment of COVID-19. It is being developed by Cipla and Hetero Labs under the brand names Cipremi and Covifor, respectively.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)