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Glenmark defends price of its COVID-19 drug favipiravir version

Bengaluru: Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd defended the pricing of its generic version of favipiravir, FabiFlu, on Tuesday, after India`s drug regulator had reportedly sent the company a notice on overpricing.

Shares of the Mumbai-based company fell as much as 5.8% on Monday after local media reports said the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) pulled up Glenmark regarding the price of the tablet and other concerns.

“Compared to other therapies approved for emergency use in COVID-19, FabiFlu is much more economical and an effective treatment option,” the company said in a statement to the exchanges.

Glenmark also denied making any claims that “favipiravir alone” is effective in treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients.

FabiFlu`s price is significantly lower than versions of favipiravir in other countries, the company added. Its price of 75 rupees ($1.00) per tablet compares to 600 rupees per tablet in Russia, and between 200 rupees and 380 rupees per tablet in China, Bangladesh and Japan.

The concerns on overpricing and allegations regarding Glenmark`s claims of effectiveness of the drug in co-morbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes were raised by a member of India`s parliament, and were sent to the company by the DCGI in a letter dated July 17.

The statement pertaining to co-morbidity was not derived from Glenmark`s ongoing late-stage trial of favipiravir, the company said, adding that reference to co-morbidity was based on data from Japanese clinical studies and that none of the company`s product information for FabiFlu make any such claims.

Anti-flu drug favipiravir is manufactured under the brand name Avigan by a unit of Japan`s Fujifilm Holdings Corp. Japanese researchers have said a clinical trial of Avigan yielded inconclusive results as a treatment for COVID-19.

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