Biotechnology major Biocon's "breakthrough drug" Itolizumab can now be used to treat moderate to severe COVID-19 patients after the approval of Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI). The announcement came on Saturday. The company said that it has repurposed Itolizumab, an anti-CD6 IgG1 monoclonal antibody launched in India in 2013 as ALZUMAb for treating chronic plaque psoriasis.
In a release, Biocon said that Itolizumab is the first novel biologic therapy in the world to be approved for treating patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infection.
The executive chairperson of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said, "It is an injection containing 25mg/5mL solution for emergency use in India for the treatment of Cytokine Release distress syndrome (ADRS) patients caused by the COVID-19".
The therapy, which costs Rs 32,000 is to be given to the patient in four vials with each priced at Rs 8,000.
"Itolizumab is a breakthrough. The beauty of this drug is it is working upstream, which means it actually starts regulating the immune system, rebooting the immune system and it starts down regulating the immune system, saying, do not make such pro-inflammatory cytokines start slowing down," Shaw said. She added that the body then recovers completely to fight the virus.
"And we developed it in India. We actually did a lot of research in India. We actually did clinical trials in India, and it is made in India, innovated in India, drug, which we have licenced to a US company, which is also doing trials with the drug. And we are very proud that this is actually an original first in class drug," Shaw added.
(With PTI inputs)