In a major boost to the fight against Covid, as many as 19 companies from India, including Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Emcure, Aurobindo Pharma, Cadila Pharmaceuticals and Biocon, among others, have been granted sub-licence to make a generic version of Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug, Paxlovid for treatment and/or prevention of COVID-19.

These form part of the 35 generic manufacturers, from 12 countries, that have signed agreements with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to produce low-cost, generic versions of Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug.

The companies have received sub-licenses from MPP, which is a UN-based public health organisation, for the generic version of Pfizer’s Covid oral antiviral, nirmatrelvir. This is to increase access to life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.

In a statement on Thursday, MPP said it had “signed agreements with 35 companies to manufacture the generic version of Pfizer’s oral Covid treatment, nirmatrelvir, which in combination with a low dose of ritonavir, can be supplied in 95 low- and middle-income countries”.

“The sub-licence agreements are the result of the voluntary licensing agreement signed by MPP and Pfizer in November 2021 that will help enable the supply of the medicines to countries comprising approximately 53 per cent of the world’s population,” it added.

According to the agreements, six companies will focus on producing the drug substance, nine companies will produce the drug product, and the remainder will do both. The companies span 12 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Jordan, India, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Serbia, Republic of Korea and Vietnam.

Ahmedabad-based Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited and Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, on Thursday, announced having received the sub-license to manufacture and commercialisation of the generic version of Paxlovid.

Torrent Pharmaceuticals informed that it will launch the product after obtaining necessary approval from the regulatory agencies.

Effective therapy

Cadila Pharmaceuticals informed that it will cater to Indian and export markets since many countries with high Covid burden lack access to effective therapy.

Nirmatrelvir, in combination with low-dose ritonavir, used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid patients at high risk of progressing to severe illness, has shown significant reduction in hospitalisation and deaths. The drug is approved or under emergency use authorisation for Covid in many countries, including the US, UK, EU, Singapore, Australia, Japan and China.

The drug is available by prescription only and should be initiated as soon as possible after the diagnosis of Covid and within five days of symptom onset.

Paxlovid is seen as an important tool in the fight against Covid after it reduced hospitalisations in high-risk patients by around 90 per cent in a clinical trial.