India's Hetero wins approval to sell COVID-19 drug favipiravir

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India’s Hetero Labs Ltd has received regulatory approval to sell its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19, the drugmaker said on Wednesday, as coronavirus infections in the world’s third worst-hit nation crossed 1.5 million.

The drug, priced at 59 rupees (79 cents) per tablet, is approved to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 and will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, privately held Hetero said in a statement.

Favipiravir and another anti-viral treatment, remdesivir, have emerged as the most sought after medicines to treat COVID-19 in India, which had already approved the drugs as emergency treatments to fight the outbreak.

India reported about 48,000 fresh cases on Wednesday. Globally, coronavirus cases have crossed 16.7 million, resulting in more than 659,000 deaths.

Favipiravir was originally developed by Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp under the brand name Avigan for treating influenza.

Hetero is also among the drugmakers that have a license with U.S.-based Gilead Sciences Inc to make remdesivir.

Other Indian drugmakers developing or selling favipiravir include Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Cipla Ltd, privately held Brinton Pharma and Jenburkt Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty