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Zydus' Virafin drug gets emergency use approval to treat moderate COVID infection

The single-dose drug showed lesser need for supplemental oxygen: Zydus Cadila

A medic prepares a dose of COVID vaccine in a syringe during a vaccination drive at Max Hospital in New Delhi | PTI Representational image | PTI

Pharmaceutical firm Zydus Cadila has received emergency use approval from India's regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the use of Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b, or ‘Virafin’, in treating moderate COVID-19 infection in adults. Earlier in the month, the company had sought approval from the DCGI for the additional indication of hepatitis drug Pegylated Interferon Alpha-2b for treating COVID-19.

According to various media reports, Zydus claims that 91.15% of patients treated with the PegIFN drug were tested RT-PCR negative by day seven. The treatment significantly reduces the hours of supplemental oxygen in the patients, the company claims. 

"A single-dose subcutaneous regimen of the antiviral Virafin will make the treatment more convenient for the patients. When administered early on during Covid, Virafin will help patients recover faster and avoid much of the complications. Virafin will be available on the prescription of medical specialist for use in hospital/institutional setup," the company said in a filing on Friday. 

PegIFN has well-established safety with multiple doses in chronic Hepatitis B and C patients for many years. "The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces the viral load when given early on can help in better disease management. It comes at a much-needed time for patients and we will continue to provide them access to critical therapies in this battle against COVID-19," Cadila Healthcare MD Sharvil Patel said.

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