Covid: Favipiravir Shows Hope in Mumbai Trial | India News
“We found that favipiravir improved clinical cure time by about three days,” said lead study author Dr. Zarir F Udwadia. Patients who took the drug cleared the virus 30% (two days) faster than those who received standard treatment. The study has been published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
“This may not sound like a very big difference, but it is significant. There are so few treatment options that when a drug gives even a promising signal, it is exciting news,” said Dr. Udwadia.
Since the pandemic began nearly a year ago in Wuhan, China, various drugs have been tried to control it. However, apart from steroids, none of the other drugs ranging from plasma to remdesivir to HCQS have been scientifically shown to help Covid-19 patients.
The current favipiravir trial was conducted from May 3 to July 3 among 150 patients admitted to Breach Candy Hospital; As this was a randomized trial, favipiravir was administered to 75 patients and another “control group” received some other drugs. “The median time to cessation of viral shedding was five days versus seven days in the control group,” the study said. Median time to clinical cure was three days in the 75 favipiravir-treated patients versus five days in the control group. The study concluded that favipiravir may be beneficial in mild to moderate Covid-19 cases.
“If the results of our study are validated by other larger studies currently underway in Boston and Stanford, favipiravir could have a similar role to Oseltamivir (another antiviral used to treat influenza such as H1N1),” said Dr. Udwadia . Dr. Shashank Joshi, who is a member of the state government working group on Covid-19, agreed that favipiravir is a “good” drug. “It’s a good drug if it’s used in the first 72 hours. You need to hit hard and hit early,” said Dr. Joshi, who was not part of the current study but had previously published a study on favipiravir.
The drug has been used extensively in Japan, Russia, and Thailand before Indian authorities approved its use for Covid-19 patients. It is widely prescribed in India for patients who prefer home isolation as it is an oral drug (remdesivir, which is prescribed for severe Covid-19 patients, is administered intravenously and only in hospitals).
“The DCGI approved the use of this drug quite prematurely, I thought, in the early days when the pandemic was raging in June. It was important for us to put this drug to the test by rapidly designing a good randomized phase 3 study and multicenter that we implemented with the help of the leading manufacturer of this drug, Glenmark, “said Dr. Udwadia.
Their study noted that it caused a mild, transient rise in uric acid levels that was reversible. “It is a safe drug, except in pregnant or lactating women, for whom it should never be used.”