DRDO's anti-coronavirus drug: Its efficacy, price, and more queries answered
The first batch containing 10,000 doses of the anti-coronavirus drug - 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose or 2-DG - was launched by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today. India's top drug regulator had cleared the medicine for emergency use earlier this month. From how effective the drug is to how much will it cost - we answer your questions.
Which laboratories developed this drug?
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved the emergency use of the drug on May 8. The medicine has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with the Hyderabad-based firm Dr. Reddy's Laboratories.
How does the drug work?
The 2-DG drug comes in powder form in a sachet and can be consumed orally by dissolving it in water. After the drug enters the body, it accumulates in the cells that are infected with the virus, where it stops the virus from multiplying. It is a repurposed drug as the 2-DG molecule is meant for treating tumor and cancer cells.
Drug supposed to act against any variant: INMAS chief
Dr. Anil Mishra, the Director of the INMAS laboratory, had explained in an earlier interview with AIR that the way this drug functions, it is expected to act against any variant of the coronavirus.
How effective is it?
The results of clinical trials for the drug show that a molecule present in it helps in faster recovery of hospitalized patients and also reduces their dependence on supplemental oxygen, the government says. Reportedly, in hospital trials, it was seen that 42% patients, who were administered two sachets of the drug daily, came off oxygen support by the third day.
When were the trials conducted?
Scientists at INMAS-DRDO had started experimenting with this drug early last year. In the second round of trials, conducted on 110 patients, the drug was found to be safe for use in COVID-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery process. Thereafter, phase three trials were conducted on 220 patients from last December to March 2021 at 27 coronavirus hospitals in several states.
How much will it cost?
The price of the drug has not been officially announced yet. However, sources suggest that each sachet is expected to cost between Rs. 500 and 600, according to News18. In fact, Dr. Reddy's has already started producing a limited quantity of the drug for hospitals. It will not be available over the counter for the time being.
India's coronavirus crisis
The launch is significant as India has been gripped by a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus and is reporting shortages of crucial drugs. In the past 24 hours, the country registered 2,81,386 coronavirus cases, the lowest surge since April 21. 4,106 deaths were also reported in the same period. Experts say the second wave may have peaked, but a third wave is possible.