BENGALURU (Reuters) - Cipla Ltd has received Indian regulatory approval to sell anti-viral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19, the drugmaker said on Friday, as coronavirus infections in the world's third worst-hit nation show no sign of abating.
The Drug Controller General of India granted Cipla accelerated approval to make and sell favipiravir in an effort to meet the "urgent and unmet" need for COVID-19 treatment options in the country, the company said.
Indian drugmakers including Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd are racing to supply generic versions of favipiravir, originally developed by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp as Avigan for treating influenza.
India reported over 49,000 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus with 740 new deaths on Friday, marking the biggest daily surge in cases, as officials in some states complained of shortages of vital drugs for those hospitalized.
Globally, coronavirus cases have crossed 15.5 million.
Cipla said it would launch favipiravir as "Ciplenza" in the first week of August, priced at 68 Indian rupees (91 cents) per 200 mg tablet.
Separately on Friday, much smaller Indian drugmaker Jenburkt Pharmaceuticals Ltd said it would launch its own version of favipiravir, priced at 39 rupees per tablet.
Glenmark, meanwhile, sells a tablet of favipiravir for 75 rupees, with a patient typically requiring 122 tablets over 14 days for a treatment course, the company said. On Thursday, Glenmark said its version of the drug had showed promise in a late-stage clinical trial.
($1 = 74.7997 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)