Sunpharma launches Favipiravir tablet Fluguard to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 infections at Rs 35 per pill

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug that was originally made to treat influenza in Japan under the brand name Avigan.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has announced that it will now be selling Favipiravir under the name FluGuard for the treatment of mild to moderate cases of the coronavirus infection. The 200 mg tablets are priced at Rs 35 per dose.

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug that was originally made to treat influenza in and developed by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp under the brand name Avigan. It is also marketed in Russia and China. On 19 June, it was approved for emergency medical use in treating patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 disease by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

“With over 50,000 Covid-19 cases being reported daily in India, there is an urgent need to provide more treatment options to healthcare professionals," Kirti Ganorkar, CEO of Sun Pharma's India business said in a press statement. "We are launching FluGuard® at an economical price to make the drug accessible to more and more patients thereby reducing their financial burden," she added.

The tablet will be available in the market from this week.

Glenmark’s FabiFlu, another Favipiravir-based treatment, has dropped its prices and is now available at ₹75 a tablet, compared to the ₹103 per tablet it costed when it was introduced into the market in June 2020.

What is Favipiravir?

Favipiravir has reportedly showed anti-viral activity against all subtypes of influenza virus strains.

Not only does it inhibit replication of influenza A and B, the drug has also shown promise in the treatment of avian influenza, and as an alternative to treat influenza strains resistant to the first choice of treatment. For influenza treatment, patients are given a 1600 mg dose of this drug on Day 1 and about 600 mg dose from day 2 to day 5.

The flexibility that favipiravir shows in its ability to act on multiple different influenza viruses has led to other countries using the drug to explore treatments for novel (emerging) viruses including Ebola and most recently, COVID-19.

However, outside its effectiveness in treating the influenza virus, evidence in support of this drug is still scant and preliminary.

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