Intas Pharma to donate 2 million hydroxychloroquine tablets for WHO-endorsed study

?OUR BUREAU Mumbai | Updated on March 30, 2020

Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd is collaborating on a World Health Organization-endorsed study into the prevention of Covid-19 using hydroxychloroquine, a drug that may have an effect in preventing and/or reducing symptoms of the coronavirus, said a note from the company.

The global COPCOV (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine prevention of Covid-19 in the healthcare setting; a randomised, placebo-controlled prophylaxis) study involves 40,000 frontline healthcare workers who are caring for Covid-19 patients and is due to start shortly, said Intas, touted to be the largest supplier by volume of generic medicines to the UK NHS.

COPCOV will be led by scientists from the University of Oxford and funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study pools the resources of international experts across multiple continents. Intas will provide up to two million tablets of hydroxychloroquine to the trial, free of charge, along with two million tablets of matched placebo (medicines that look real, but don’t contain the active ingredient).

‘Race against time’

Explaining what prompted the study, William Schilling, co-lead investigator, Research Physician and Infectious Diseases/ Microbiology Registrar, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Thailand, said: “We are in a race against time to find effective treatments and preventive measures as the Covid-19 pandemic grows. What we already know is that chloroquine has antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture, as it does for the related SARS-CoV.”

The Intas statement cited professor Sir Nicholas White, Wellcome Trust Fellow and consultant in infectious diseases at the University of Oxford, as saying, “The hypothesis for this study is that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine might both slow viral replication in exposed subjects, attenuating or preventing the infection. Given the extensive experience in clinical practice, established safety and tolerability profile, if it proves effective then it would be a readily deployable and affordable preventive measure for high risk individuals such as healthcare workers”.

Binish Chudgar, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Intas Pharmaceuticals, said that their teams were working round-the-clock, in challenging times, to manufacture the required hydroxychloroquine and matching-placebo for this vital study.

Published on March 30, 2020

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