India drugmaker Cipla to make and sell US arthritis drug to treat Covid-19

Cipla Ltd's deal with Eli Lilly and Co expands the Indian drugmaker's portfolio of Covid-19 drugs. PHOTO: REUTERS

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - Indian drugmaker Cipla Ltd said on Monday (May 10) it had entered into a licensing agreement with United States company Eli Lilly and Co to make and sell Lilly's arthritis drug baricitinib for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

The agreement comes at a time when India is struggling with a catastrophic second wave of the pandemic, leading to an acute shortage of coronavirus medicines such as remdesivir and tocilizumab.

Baricitinib has been given restricted emergency use approval by India's drug regulator for use in combination with remdesivir for the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 adult patients requiring supplemental oxygen, Cipla said in a filing to stock exchanges.

In November, the US Food and Drug Administration initially gave Eli Lilly an emergency use approval for baricitinib in combination with remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients.

Cipla's deal with Lilly expands the Indian drugmaker's portfolio of Covid-19 drugs. Aside from remdesivir and tocilizumab, the company also offers antiviral drug favipiravir, used to treat patients with moderate to mild Covid-19.

Last week, Cipla said it would be the local distribution partner for a Covid-19 antibody drug cocktail developed by Roche and Regeneron, after the therapy got emergency use approval from India's drug regulator.

India has posted more than 400,000 daily coronavirus cases for the past four days, and its total infections have reached nearly 22.30 million, the second highest number of cases in the world after the United States.

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