COVID second wave affects trial of new drugs

IICT chief S. Chandrasekhar with Bharat Biotech CMD Krishna Ella recently.  

The surging second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has been putting tremendous strain on the healthcare facilities in both the public and private sector with scores of patients lining up for admission. This has also had an effect on the ongoing clinical trials for various drugs and vaccine candidates even as hospitals and staff remain busy with patient care.

CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) has lined up at least three potential repurposed drugs — Niclosamide, Colchicine and Chlorpromazine — in association with other CSIR labs for clinical trials. “While this is the time to initiate clinical trials with many patients being admitted in hospitals, we are conscious that it will also put pressure on doctors partnering for clinical trials because, they have to monitor these patients much more closely and record many more parameters,” pointed out IICT director S. Chandrasekhar.

The institute has pioneered the process technology of Favipiravir and Remdesivir, repurposed for treatment of COVID-19 and is also working closely with indigenous pharmaceutical industries for development of the next generation of antivirals and other drugs.

“CSIR is open to providing non-exclusive licence to the processes we develop so that drugs are available in quantities at affordable cost. A challenge with Favipiravir and Remdesivir long storage is the shelf life. Currently, companies have data for less than one year and if more data is available, the production can be ramped up,” he explained.

Drug firms had to shed the production lines by December last year due to reduced demand and now the sudden increase has led to panic-buying and shortage. “We expect the firms to ramp up production during these months and the situation could ease up in the coming days once the regulatory approvals come in for infrastructure upgrade of the existing facilities for more production,” he added.

IICT has also been instrumental in developing a crucial adjuvant for Bharat Biotech International Limited for bringing out Covaxin in association with Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. “We are further improving the process so that the scale up is easier to provide more adjuvants to Bharat Biotech as they enhance the vaccine production to meet the demand within the country and internationally in a more cost-effective manner,” said Dr. Chandrasekhar.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 8:59:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/covid-second-wave-affects-trial-of-new-drugs/article34465252.ece

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