Coronavirus | COVID-19 drugs under review after trial results

Remdesivir is showing reports of liver damage in patients from across India, says health official

July 05, 2020 09:25 pm | Updated July 06, 2020 09:18 am IST - NEW DELHI

Photo for representation.

Photo for representation.

Drugs Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir/Ritonavir and Favipiravir, currently being used for COVID-19 patients, have come under the Health Ministry’s scanner. Senior officials have confirmed that with both national and international information and trial results coming in for these drugs, “constant monitoring and review for use are essential.”

Also read |COVID-19 vaccine: Completion of trials could take at least 6 to 9 months, says Soumya Swaminathan

“We are waiting and watching,” said a senior Health Ministry official.

Top on the chart for review is drug Remdesivir which is presently allowed for restricted use in moderate COVID-19 cases.

Rise in alkaline levels

“Remdesivir is showing reports of liver damage in patients from across India. There are multiple evidence that patients who have been given the drug showed rise in levels of alkaline phosphatase etc that can lead to liver injury,” said a senior health official.

Also under review are Hydroxychloroquine and Lopinavir/Ritonavir, for which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has discontinued Solidarity Trial for COVID-19. The Solidarity Trial was established by the WHO to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalised patients.

This comes days after a government hospital in the Capital stopped the use of another anti-viral drug Favipiravir, (used in mild/moderate cases) after complaints, including decreased appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, increased uric acid levels, decreased counts of white blood cells and increased liver enzymes levels.

Also read |Issue compulsory licences for manufacture of an affordable generic version of Remdesivir, CPI(M) tells govt.

Dynamic situation

“All these drugs are under constant review for use among COVID-patients and we are gathering more information. This is a dynamic situation and we are working closely with all organisations involved in the safety of our patients,” said a senior Health Ministry official.

Meanwhile the testing lab network in the country continues to expand, according to the Ministry, with 786 labs in the government sector and 314 private labs currently.

A Ministry release said on Sunday, “The labs that we have in the country now include — real-time RT PCR-based testing labs: 591 [govt.: 368 + private: 223]; TrueNat-based testing labs: 417 [govt.: 385 + private: 32]; and CBNAAT-based testing labs: 92 [govt.: 33 + private: 59]. With focussed ‘Test, Trace, Treat’ strategy, coupled with various measures recently taken to remove hurdles for COVID-19 testing, there has been a steady rise in the samples tested every day; during the last 24 hours 2,48,934 samples have been tested. The cumulative number of samples tested, as on date, is 97,89,066.”

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