Biocon To Launch Covid Medicine Itolizumab At Rs 8,000 Per Vial
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, managing director and co-founder of Biocon Ltd., gestures during an interview in Bengaluru, India. (Photographer: Samyukta Lakshmi/Bloomberg)

Biocon To Launch Covid Medicine Itolizumab At Rs 8,000 Per Vial

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Drugmaker Biocon Ltd. on Monday said it will launch Itolizumab for the treatment of moderate to severe Covid-19 patients at a price of around 8,000 per vial.

The Bengaluru-based company has received approval from Drugs Controller General of India to market Itolizumab injection 25mg/5ml solution for emergency use in India for the treatment of cytokine release syndrome in moderate to severe covid patients.

Itolizumab is the first novel biologic therapy to be approved anywhere in the world for treating patients with moderate to severe Covid-19 complications, Biocon had said in a preivous regulatory filing.

"Until the vaccine comes, we certainly need life saving drugs. I think what we are doing across the world is to see how we can either repurpose drugs or develop new drugs to treat this pandemic,"Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said.

“Even if we get a covid vaccine by the end of this year or early next year, there is no guarantee that there will not be reinfection," she said. “There is no guarantee that it will work the way we expect it to work, so we must be in a state of preparedness.”

"When covid happened, we said that it actually gives us a very strong case to try it (Itolizumab), because we do believe that the unique mechanism of action that it has can help us deal with this storm that we have seen is killing patients,'' she said.

The cost of per vial is Rs 7,950. As most patients need four vials, the cost of the therapy is around Rs 32,000, Mazumdar-Shaw said.

On being asked if the company is ramping up the capacity to meet demand, she said, "We have the manufacturing capacity and the supply and distribution network in place. However, post this approval, we are looking to ramp up production capacity to meet the expected surge in demand. Our aim is to reach a larger number of patients across the country.”

The drug will be manufactured and formulated as an intravenous injection at the company's bio-manufacturing facility at Biocon Park, Bengaluru.

On Monday, Biocon shares rose 0.07% to Rs 414.60 apiece on the BSE while the benchmark Sensex gained 0.27% to end the day at 36,693.69 points.

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