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Cipla in talks to bring Covid antidotes to India

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on February 22, 2021

Umang Vohra, MD and Global Chief Executive, Cipla

Expanding into home-testing, point-of-care diagnostics, in the hunt for technology

Cipla is in talks with major vaccine companies to bring vaccines to India, even as it expands its domestic footprint in home-testing or point-of-care diagnostic space, revealed Cipla Managing Director and Global Chief Executive Umang Vohra.

“We have offered our services to every potential partner who wants to be in India and doesn’t have a partner,” Vohra told BusinessLine.

Cipla’s Covid-19 related portfolio spans Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab, and masks and sanitisers, for instance. The drugmaker also has alliances to bring in Covid-19 antibody and antigen testing kits. So vaccines had been the gap in its Covid-offerings.

Vohra reiterates, “We are ready to partner with anyone whose data and science looks good. It could be J&J (Johnson & Johnson), it could be Moderna, it could be Pfizer...,” he said, adding that it comes down to, among other things, doing local clinical trials on the vaccine, for which the partner company should be comfortable as well.

Self- or home-testing

“Our vision for diagnostics is that it is going to shift more towards the point of care... where you go to get yourself treated, could be a doctor’s chamber or even in your house, for your own self-use,” he explains.

In about three-to five years, a CBC profile could be done at home and the results directly fed through microprocessors straight to your doctor, says Vohra, adding “You send in the report one hour before your consult and he has your entire blood parameters. We see an environment like that panning out. That’s where we would like to be. So Covid is one area to get into, we see diagnostics as beyond that.”

Late last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration authorised for emergency use, the first home-use diagnostic test for Covid-19.

“The challenge with India is that, in all the other countries, insurance pays for it, in India the patient pays,” he says, indicating that the product needs to be affordable locally. Cipla is looking at bringing in similar diagnostic kits suited to the Indian context, he said, adding that there were internal timelines on both the vaccine and diagnostic plans

“Right now our hunt is more around technology,”he said, in terms of where it is available and how it can be suited to the Indian and African context.

Published on February 22, 2021

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