Over 20 Drugs in Pipeline for Covid – From Merck’s Molnupiravir to Glenmark’s nasal spray
There are over 20 drugs new COVID-19 drugs in various phases of clinical trials or approval in India. A few of them include Molnupiravir by Merck, antibody cocktail by Zydus and Nasal Spray by Glenmark.
Presently, the market for these drugs may not be large because of a decline in COVID-19 cases and longer timelines; however, specialists assume that these drugs will help control future waves and shield people with weaker immunity.
As per the health experts, the drug pipeline will be critical in India’s battle against COVID-19. They claim that COVID-19 vaccines would only give protection against severe disease or mortality. But, anyone can be infected and develop complexities or long-term adverse effects from COVID-19 infection.
Furthermore, some people may not be able to generate an immune response even after getting vaccinated. Other susceptible people are also at risk, including the elderly, immunocompromised patients, and those for whom vaccines are not recommended. Specialists consider that covering 100% of the populace with vaccines is extremely unlikely and that having a COVID-19 treatment is “extremely necessary.”
For example, even though smallpox was eradicated decades ago, the drug Tecorivimat was authorized by the American regulator in 2020, in spite of zero cases of smallpox been reported for years.
Be ready with drugs this time: Experts
Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar, a former scientist, ICMR, stated that the 1st-generation vaccine doesn’t provide effective sterilizing immunity. They prevent serious infections. This implies that some vaccinated people may still develop a mild illness, leading to other complexities or prolonged Covid-19. He further added that they are still uncovering more about the side effects.
Dr. Gangakhedkar, an epidemiologist, who was the face of the ICMR during government briefings on COVID-19 in 2020, stated that in some cases, there is also a lack of response to the vaccine in some people. Moreover, 100% vaccination coverage is an illusory aim. Hence, there will always be some who are susceptible to COVID-19.
The lead scientist also emphasized the importance of being prepared for a situation in which a mutant strain immune to vaccine starts evolving and spreading.
He further stated that what if the more powerful mutant strain escaped the vaccine-induced immune response and started to transmit. Efficacious antivirals will be required to reduce death and associated morbidity. It’s better to be prepared with an authorized drug before any such mutant strain starts transmitting.
Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya, a physician and epidemiologist, agreed with the findings. While there has been significant investment and progress in COVID-19 vaccine R&D, encouraging investigational treatments has not met with the same level of success.
He stated that the level of financing and interest in R&D of COVID-19 therapies has been less than it should be. One of the most significant uncertainties in clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments is that once cases are reduced, most firms may not see a large market for additional research and trials – which would be a blunder.
Experts believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus will continue to be with humanity and cause COVID-19 at a slow pace. As much as the world requires COVID-19 vaccines, it also requires proven and effective COVID-19 therapies.
The pipeline of COVID-19 drugs
Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral treatment developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics that has been proved to decrease the chance of hospitalization or mortality by about 50%, has been studied in India by partner firms Cipla, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.
Zydus Cadila has developed a cocktail treatment that neutralizes monoclonal antibodies. When former US President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19, he was also given a similar drug made by Swiss drugmaker Roche. In India, the drug is under phase I/III trials.
Ritonavir, an experimental antiviral drug developed by Pfizer, is designed to stop the virus before it has an opportunity to replicate largely. It could be used as a possible treatment for inhibiting symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and restraining the onset of infection in others. PF-07321332, the company’s other experimental oral antiviral, has also been approved for phase II and III trials.
Glenmark’s Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray for COVID-19 has been authorized for extensive trials in India. According to a study conducted in the UK, the spray is highly efficient in decreasing the viral load in COVID-19 patients and decreasing onward transmission.
Life Viro Treat, a nebulizer-based therapy for respiratory viral infection developed by NIPER, is also being examined against COVID-19.
PAT Pharma has presented Silmitasertib, a drug that acts on the protein kinase CK2 pathway and is supposed to have high clinical potential against COVID-19, to obtain authorization for clinical trials. The CK2-inhibitor works by potentially impeding active viral replication in infected cells, thereby inhibiting infection transmission. The body’s overactive inflammatory response to COVID-19 may also get decreased by this drug.
CSIR has been carrying out Phase III trials of Umifenovir, a drug that is initially utilized for treating influenza in China and Russia.
Many other drugs, including niclosamide by CBCC Global Research, Thymosin 1 injection by Gufic Biosciences, purified water extract of Cocculus hirsutus by Sun Pharma, and Imatinib Mesylate by Syngene have either been authorized for testing or are in the process of giving more details to seek approval.
Looking for government support
As per health authorities, the government should actively back clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments.
Lahariya stated that, in fact, the government has to shape a comparable kind of authorities and industry partnership just like how it was done for vaccines. By any chance, as the number of COVID-19 cases declines, it’d take longer to finish clinical trials (due to less the number of volunteers). This is yet another reason why these trials must be encouraged.
Dr. Gangakhedkar expressed similar concerns. The trials will now be longer, which means that companies will need to spend more time and money to complete them. They must, however, continue. He believes that the government could assist pharmaceutical companies in continuing the trials. It would be a worthwhile investment.
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Keywords: Over 20 Drugs in Pipeline for Covid; Over 20 Drugs In Pipeline For Covid-19 From Merck, Zydus Cadila, Pfizer.