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Dr Reddy’s working on new treatment options for COVID-19, says MD

Drug major Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is working on the development of new treatment options for COVID-19 patients, which it aims to launch over the next few months while ensuring uninterrupted supplies of its existing range of products for the infectious disease in the market, according to a top company official.

The Hyderabad-based drug major has already launched Sputnik V vaccine while partnering various organisations, including the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

“We are motivated to serve patients in every possible way and with utmost urgency. This is reflected in the multiple collaborations we have entered to develop and commercialise a wide range of preventive and curative options for COVID treatment, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Co-Chairman and Managing Director G V Prasad said in an analyst call.

The drug firm over the past few weeks has ramped up supply of multiple medicines, including Remdesivir, to meet the surge in demand, he added.

“We are also working on the launch of newer treatment options, which we will bring to the market in the next few months. We have also ensured that supplies of our existing medicines continue uninterrupted and we continue to meet the market demand for all our markets,” Prasad noted.

Commenting on business opportunities arising from the Sputnik V, Dr Reddy’s CEO Erez Israeli said: “We have the rights for the first 250 million of doses for India which translates to 125 million patients. And the initial quantities will come from the imported route that will come out of Russia.”

And in the meantime, the company has tied up with six contractors (manufacturing partners) to produce the product locally in India, he noted.

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“In addition there are discussions with RDIF for Sputnik light as well as additional engagement for the future of India. And we are also in discussions with them about quantities and rights, assets permit for other countries. So this is the overall view that we have at this stage of Sputnik,” Israeli noted.

When asked when the drug major would be able to supply the 250 million doses in the country, he said: “I anticipate that between now and July, maybe August, the primary supply will be from Russia.”

Local production in the offing

On the start of local production and supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine, he noted: “The first quantities will come from the Indian manufacturers hopefully by August and September. It depends of course on the qualifications of those sites and the ability to meet the bridging studies, etc, but this is at least the anticipation. If this plan is in place, we can deal with these quantities within 12-months.”

Currently, the company is working on its distribution network, Israeli said.

He noted that the intent is that India will be a big hub for Sputnik V.

“And therefore, a portion of that quantity once fulfilled what is needed for India will be also for export. But this is not concluded at this stage, it’s in discussions,” Israeli said.

The first consignment of imported doses of the Sputnik V vaccine landed in India on May 1, and received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on May 13, 2021.

As part of a limited pilot, the soft launch of the vaccine has commenced and the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad.

Dr Reddy’s received permission from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to import the Sputnik vaccine into India for restricted use in emergency situations in April.

The company had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct clinical trials of Sputnik V and distribute the vaccine in India in September 2020.

Sputnik V uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination. Its efficacy was determined to be 91.6 per cent as per a published article in the medical journal Lancet.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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