Call it the COVID effect. Anti-viral drug Favipiravir, used for Covid-19 treatment, has rocketed to the rank of the largest-selling pharma brand in April for the first time ever in the domestic retail market.
The drug, marketed by Mumbai-based Glenmark as Fabiflu, posted sales of Rs 352 crore in April alone, overtaking sales of drugs for lifestyle ailments such as diabetes, which have long dominated the market.
For the 12-month period ended April, Fabiflu mopped up Rs 762 crore sales, higher than anti-diabetic drug, Glycomet-GP’s Rs 564 crore, with around half coming in April alone, according to data culled from pharma research firm, AIOCD-Awacs.
Favipiravir is an early-use antiviral which showed promising results in certain countries including Japan, but it’s efficacy has been under a cloud in India. Irrespective, the drug is being prescribed and used widely in Covid-19 therapy across the country, with its sales seeing a massive surge during the second wave.
The antiviral drug was approved in June by India’s drug regulator under `restricted emergency authorisation’ under the accelerated approval process, for mild-tomoderate cases.
Over 30 companies are now producing Favipiravir, including Sun Pharma, Cipla, Abbott, Alkem, Dr Reddy’s, Hetero, Brinton, Jenburkt, Lasa Supergenerics, Delcure and Strides Pharma. Glenmark has also tweaked the strength of Fabiflu to reduce the pill burden, and is now offered in 400 and 800 mg options.