Covifor approved for COVID-19 treatment: Five important facts about generic drug priced at ₹5,400 per vial

Hetero, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company, has launched its generic remdesivir drug, under the name Covifor, after approval from Drug Controller General of India on 21 June, 2020.

Myupchar June 26, 2020 14:55:59 IST
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Covifor approved for COVID-19 treatment: Five important facts about generic drug priced at ₹5,400 per vial

After Fabi flu, the favipiravir drug by Glenmark, Hetero, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company, has launched its generic remdesivir drug, under the name Covifor, after approval from Drug Controller General of India on 21 June, 2020.

The drug will be available in the form of injectable vials of 100 mg which would be priced at Rs 5,400. Remdesivir has shown promising results in bringing the viral load down in severe COVID-19 patients and helping them recover faster. The drug is still under trial in several countries, although the US FDA gave it emergency approval for use in severe cases of COVID-19 .

But as with every development regarding the new infections, there is a lot of half and misinformation floating about the new drug. Here are some important facts you need to know about Covifor by Hetero.

Fact 1: Generic remdesivir drugs are just as safe as the branded one.

All big firms, including the US Food and Drug Administration and the Harvard Medical School, claim that generic drugs are just as safe and effective as their brand-name equivalents. The active ingredients used in generic drugs have a similar quality, strength, purity, and stability as the ones used for brand-name medicines. Moreover, generic drugs are available at a much lower cost as compared to branded drugs. Similarly, Hetero's generic remdesivir drug, called Covifor, is expected to be just as effective and safe as the branded drug.

Fact 2: Remdesivir was originally created to fight Ebola but didn't perform as well as expected. 

Remdesivir was originally developed by Gilead Sciences, a US-based pharma company, during the outbreak of Ebola to fight the deadly disease. Remdesivir acts on the enzyme RNA polymerase which is necessary for the multiplication of the virus. When the virus could not make more copies of itself, it is not able to spread in the body and eventually dies. However, the drug didn’t seem to work as well as expected for the Ebola virus, thus was tested against the strains of coronavirus (SARS and MERS) in the year 2017 and now for SARS-CoV-2 in 2020.

Fact 3: Remdesivir is one of the nucleoside analogues that are being used for COVID-19 treatment.

Nucleoside analogues are an important category of drugs that belong to the group of antiviral agents which are already used for the effective treatment of HIV infection, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster infection. Remdesivir is a nucleoside analogue which restricts viral replication in the body, either by hindering the RNA polymerase enzyme or by the terminating the RNA chain (genetic chain) of the virus. The other nucleoside analogue that has been approved for the treatment of COVID-19 patients is favipiravir.

Fact 4: Remdesivir cannot be used for every patient.

So far, as per the US food and drug administration (FDA) and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), has authorized the use of this drug for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. Currently, the drug is being used as an experimental treatment and is still under trial to prove its efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Fact 5: You cannot take Covifor on your own.

Covifor is under restricted use authorisation in India. This means patients would need a doctor's prescription to get it and that doctors will have to take a patient's consent before giving them the drug.

For more information, see Covifor.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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