Ipca’s malaria drug among three therapies being studied by WHO

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 13, 2021

It will be tested on hospitalised Covid-19 patients

Malaria drug artesunate, supplied by Indian drugmaker Ipca, is one of three therapies that will be tested on hospitalised Covid-19 patients, as part of the next phase of Solidarity trials, said the World Health Organisation.

Solidarity Plus will enroll hospitalised patients to test artesunate, imatinib and infliximab, selected by an independent expert panel for their potential in reducing the risk of death in hospitalised Covid patients.

These drugs are already used in other indications such as severe malaria (artesunate), certain cancers (imatinib), and diseaes of the immune system such as Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis (infliximab). The drugs were donated for the trial by their manufacturers, the WHO said, referring to Ipca, Novartis and Johnson and Johnson.

In fact, Ipca was in the spotlight last year, too, over hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted to be a game-changer by former US President Trump.

The Solidarity Plus trial is a platform that represents the largest global collaboration among WHO member states. It involves thousands of researchers in over 600 hospitals in 52 countries, 16 more than the first phase of trials. This allows the trial to assess multiple treatments at the same time using a single protocol, recruiting thousands of patients to generate robust estimates on the effect a drug may have on mortality, said WHO.

It also allows new treatments to be added and ineffective treatments to be dropped throughout the course of the trial. Previously, four drugs were evaluated by the trial and dropped. Trial results had shown that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon had little or no effect on hospitalised patients with Covid.

Trial drugs

Artesunate will be administered intravenously for seven days, using the standard dose recommended for the treatment of severe malaria. The WHO Covid-19 Therapeutics Advisory Group recommended evaluating the anti-inflammatory properties of artesunate.

Imatinib will be administered orally, once daily, for 14 days. The dose used is the standard maintenance dose, which is at the lower end of the dose patients with haematological malignancies are given over extended periods. And Infliximab will be administered intravenously as a single dose. The dose used is the standard dose that patients with Crohn’s Disease are given over extended periods, the note said.

Published on August 12, 2021

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