Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has sought the drug regulator’s permission to repurpose a generic drug used to treat tapeworm infestations for potential covid-19 treatment.
In its annual report for 2020-21, the Mukesh Ambani-led group said it submitted an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to allow Niclosamide to be used for treating covid-19 patients.
The drug is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines for treating covid-19 cases.
“Reliance is working to address insufficient ventilator supply in emergency rooms across hospitals in India by deploying a concept developed in Italy, which enables CPAP machine with a 3D-printed charlotte valve and special snorkelling mask,” the report said.
Seeing a significant rise in demand for onsite oxygen as the pandemic raged, Reliance has started working on a value-engineered robust design for oxygen generators capable of producing 5-7 litres of oxygen per minute with a purity of 90-95 per cent.
“Reliance has more than 900 researchers and scientists from world’s top institutes working on developing next-gen technology solutions to solve some of the most pressing Indian and global challenges,” the annual report said.
Three trials are currently underway in India to study the use of Niclosamide for covid-19.
The largest of them is being done by Telangana-based Laxai Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd.
“We are conducting the trial in moderate covid-19 patients who are at risk of moving to severe disease. The drug is known to work in two ways. It will prevent further viral replication, which could stop disease progression and also prevent lung fibrosis. We are working with a novel formulation of this drug, which will provide much-needed relief to such patients and solve the problem of unmet medical needs in covid-19 treatment in India and elsewhere,” Laxai Life Sciences chief executive Dr. Ram Upadhayaya said in an interview.
Another trial was conducted by Hyderabad-based Daewoong Pharmaceutical (India) Pvt. Ltd. It is examining the effect of drug in covid-19 patients. The trial is over now. Currently, the data is with the regulator.
However, the drug is yet to get go ahead signal from the regulator to treat Covid-19.
RIL already has is diagnostics operations running, that conduct over 2,000 covid-19 tests every day. It has developed its own confirmatory tests for covid-19, which are available to all RIL employees and will soon be rolled out in the community.
RIL’s team has also designed a process to produce sanitizers aligned with WHO specifications at 20% of market cost, RIL said in its annual report. It said its team is working with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratories to certify Nexar polymer, which has shown to destroy the lipid layer of various viruses and bacteria.