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Russia Endorses Antiviral Drug Avifavir for Covid-19 in Good News for India, Scientists Say | India News


NEW DELHI: Russia’s approval of the antiviral drug Avifavir to treat Covid-19 is good news for India, as it is based on an anti-influenza drug already in advanced clinical trials here, scientists say.
Avifavir, described by its developers in Russia as perhaps the world’s most promising anti-Covid-19 drug, is derived from Favipiravir.
Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals announced last week that Favipiravir is in Phase 3 clinical trials, the penultimate stage of drug testing, in India.
Claiming that Avifavir has shown high efficacy in treating coronavirus patients during clinical trials, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Monday that it will deliver 60,000 courses of the drug to Russian hospitals in June.
He also said that Avifavir has become the first Favipiravir-based drug in the world to be approved for the treatment of Covid-19, he said.
The close derived link between Avifavir and Favipiravir is also cause for hope in India, scientists said here.
Favipiravir has been under discussion and a point of interest in the recent past, said Arup Kumar Banerjee of the North Bengal College and Hospital of Medicine, Siliguri.
He noted that Favipiravir is available under the Avigan name for influenza and is often recommended for viral infections such as bunyaviruses, filoviruses, and arenaviruses.
“It is prescribed for severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), a viral hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate and is effective against all strains of influenza virus,” Banerjee told PTI.
“The vaccine is important, so is the antiviral. We need to develop both side by side. Today, if someone comes up with a drug against Covid 19 regardless of their country or origin, it is good news subject to validation of the same to big scale”. Therefore, the same applies to this derivative as well, “he added.
Avifavir, developed by a joint venture between RDIF and ChemRar Group, is designed to disrupt the reproductive capacity of the new coronavirus.
“Avifavir is not only the first registered antiviral drug against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti-Covid-19 drug in the world,” RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.
The RDIF and the ChemRar Group announced last week that Avifavir received a temporary registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health.
“Avifavir is a drug that according to available information is being tested by Russia against Covid 19 and is based on Favipiravir, a drug known to have an inhibitory role against the activity of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) of a virus” said virologist Rayo Upasana.
RdRP is an essential protein encoded in the genes of viruses that contain RNA.
“Favipiravir has previously been shown to inhibit influenza virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase,” Ray, chief scientist at CSIR-IICB in Kolkata, told PTI.
RNA polymerase is a viral enzyme that aids in the replication or reproduction of viral RNA, which is the genetic material. Therefore, a drug that inhibits this activity would basically slow down the functional multiplication of the virus, he explained.
Last week Glenmark announced a new randomized study in India to evaluate the combined efficacy of Favipiravir and another antiviral drug Umifenovir as a possible Covid-19 treatment strategy.
Glenmark also said it is conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of Favipiravir as a Covid-19 therapy option with 150 patients, enrolled in nine leading private and government hospitals across the country.
“So far, 30 patients have been randomized. The results of the phase 3 clinical trial in monotherapy are expected in July or August 2020,” the company said in a statement last week.
Glenmark said it is the first pharmaceutical company to receive approval from the drug regulator Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct clinical trials of Favipiravir against Covid-19 in India.
Favipiravir is an oral antiviral medication approved in Japan in 2014 for the treatment of new or re-emerging influenza virus infections. It has a unique mechanism of action by which it inhibits viral replication or reproduction, he said.
“Since (Favipiravir) was previously tested for influenza, they (the researchers) were able to avoid initial toxicity tests, etc. It was one of (hundreds) of clinical trials against SARS-VOC-2. With preliminary data for the Clinical trials that look positive jumped on him, “Durba Sengupta of the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, Maharashtra told PTI.
Sengupta said the drug acts on one of the main proteins responsible for RNA replication.
He also injected a note of caution.
Until the results of clinical trials are properly reported, it is difficult to say how effective it will be.
“One should definitely be cautious. First, it is not designed to attack this particular virus, and it is RdRP, so the binding may be weaker than in influenza,” Sengupta said.
Although it is not known how the different viral strains will bind, he said it is one of the best options at the moment.
Another point, Sengupta noted, is that the action of the drug is on the same goal as the antiviral remdesivir, one of the top possible drug contenders for Covid-19.
“I think several people thought that remdesvir would be quite promising, but so far it has been ambiguous. Obtaining solid clinical data in such a short time is really complicated. It is really difficult to say without the actual clinical data and without looking at the statistics,” she added.
The Indian drug regulator has granted the US pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences marketing authorization to remdesivir for “restricted emergency use” in hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in view of the crisis caused by the pandemic.
The approval process for remdesivir was accelerated in light of the emergency situation and the unmet need for drugs in light of the coronavirus outbreak, a source familiar with the developments told PTI.

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