Five Indian Drugmakers Collaborate For Clinical Trial Of MSD's Covid-19 Drug

Finished tablets cascade down the channels of a packaging machine during the manufacture of the Favipiravir antiviral medicine. (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Five Indian Drugmakers Collaborate For Clinical Trial Of MSD's Covid-19 Drug

Five Indian drugmakers will jointly conduct clinical trials of an antiviral drug for treating Covid-19 in the country.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd., and Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd. will collaborate for the clinical trial of the investigational drug, Molnupiravir, according to a statement on Tuesday.

Molnupiravir is an oral anti-viral that inhibits the replication of multiple RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. If approved, it will be used for treating mild Covid-19 infections in an outpatient setting, the statement said. The five pharma companies will jointly sponsor, supervise and monitor the trial.

In March and April, these companies individually signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with Merck Sharpe Dohme to manufacture and supply Molnupiravir in India and to more 100 low- and middle-income countries. MSD is studying the drug through a collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP in a phase III trial for treating non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients globally.

In India, Dr. Reddy’s will conduct the clinical trial for the version of Molnupiravir it will manufacture, according to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation. The other four companies will be required to demonstrate equivalence of their versions to that of Dr. Reddy’s.

The companies said 1,200 patients will be recruited across India for the clinical trial between June and September.

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