The first batch of anti-COVID oral drug 2-DG — developed by the DRDO — was released on Monday by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) approved the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) drug for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe coronavirus patients earlier this month.
In his brief remarks, the defence minister said the drug has brought a new ray of hope for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“This is a great example of the scientific prowess of our country,” he said.
He added that it is not the time to relax and get tired as there is nothing definitive about the course of the pandemic.
“We do not need to be relaxed, nor should we get tired. Because this wave has come for the second time, and there is nothing definite about this. We have to take steps with full caution,” he said at an event in DRDO headquarters.
The defence minister said the government has taken the overall situation seriously, whether it is the matter of oxygen supply or ensuring ICU beds or the arrangement of cryogenic tankers for transportation of liquid oxygen.
“I am happy to say that the Medical Corps has also decided to take back its retired doctors so that our health system can be strengthened further. I heartily commend such physicians who are joining this campaign even after their service,” he added.
The defence minister also listed efforts of the armed forces in helping civilian authorities deal with the situation across India.
However, he asserted that deployment of the armed forces for COVID-relief measures has not impacted their operational preparedness at the borders.
“Even after going through all these difficulties, we have ensured that our preparedness at the border does not have any impact. There is no shortage of enthusiasm of our forces anywhere. We know this very well, no matter how big the difficulty is, we will overcome it,” he said.
The defence ministry on May 8 said the clinical trials of the 2-DG drug showed it helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence.
The drug’s approval has come at a time when India is grappling with a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 pandemic, which has stretched the country’s healthcare infrastructure to its limit. The anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of the 2-DG drug has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) — a leading laboratory of DRDO — in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) in Hyderabad.
The drug comes in powder form in a sachet and is taken orally by dissolving it in water, the ministry said.
In efficacy trends, the ministry said, patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than the standard of care (SoC) on various endpoints.