A ‘marathon’ run for BDR Pharma, maker of two Covid-19 drugs

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on August 05, 2020 Published on August 05, 2020

Dharmesh Shah, Chairman and Managing Director of BDR Pharmaceuticals

The last 90 days have been a “marathon”, says Dharmesh Shah, Chairman and Managing Director of BDR Pharmaceuticals, a maker of Covid-19 drugs Remdesivir and now Favipiravir as well.

The company has launched Favipiravir under its brandname BDFAVI, besides supplying the same to Sun Pharma. “As the trajectory of the number of Covid-19 cases increases in the country, combined with factors like the monsoon, it was important to have an accessible and affordable version of Favipiravir,” Shah told BusinessLine.

Priced at ₹63 per tablet, the drug would be largely supplied through hospitals, where BDR would also have a patient assistance programme to support those unable to pay, he said. Where hospitals or government-run centres are not available, the drug would be available through retail chemists as well, Shah said.

The retail sale of Favipiravir would be through Sun Pharma (under its brandname), since they have a larger distribution reach across the country, he added. Just yesterday, Sun Pharma had announced its version of Favipiravir at the lowest price in the marketplace yet, at ₹35 per tablet.

BDR also supplies anti-viral Remdesivir to Cipla. In fact, it had further sub-contracted this task to Sovereign Pharma.

Responding to the many drug companies making Favipiravir, he said, “it was not about just one more brand. But one also had to keep in mind the quality and impurities etc.” BDR’s strategy is not “stockist-driven but hospital-driven”, he said.

Favipiravir has doctors divide, on its benefits in treating Covid-19 patients. And yet, many drugmakers are entering this category, with their versions of the medicine pegged at different price-points.

“Covid products, be it, Hydroxychloroquine, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir etc are being used based on observational studies and data was being generated. Within a couple of months, India’s database on these products would be large,” he said, indicating that a more streamlined treatment strategy could be devised.

BDR Pharma emerged on the pharmaceutical scene with a patent-challenge on a cancer drug. The ₹ 900 crore group (including pharma and lifesciences) decides to make medicines by following the disease pattern and its need, rather than data on market-share, he said.

“People pay from their pocket in India and there is no social security. Over the last three months, people have been without work, earnings etc and when they get the infection, it could spread to other members of the family, he says, pointing to the cascading costs. “Large sums are paid for hospitalisation, it’s a painful journey and the repercussion is felt for many years,” he added.

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Published on August 05, 2020
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