Bengaluru: India's Hetero Labs Ltd has received regulatory approval to sell its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19, the drugmaker said on Wednesday (July 29), as coronavirus infections in the world's third worst-hit nation crossed 1.5 million.

The drug, priced at Rs 59 (79 cents) per tablet, is approved to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 and will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, privately held Hetero said in a statement.

Favipiravir and another antiviral treatment, remdesivir, have emerged as the most sought-after medicines to treat COVID-19 in India, which had already approved the drugs as emergency treatments to fight the outbreak.

India reported about 48,000 fresh cases on Wednesday. Globally, coronavirus cases have crossed 16.7 million, resulting in more than 659,000 deaths.

Favipiravir was originally developed by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp under the brand name Avigan for treating influenza. Hetero is also among the drugmakers that have a license with US-based Gilead Sciences Inc to make remdesivir.

Other Indian drugmakers developing or selling favipiravir include Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Cipla Ltd, privately held Brinton Pharma and Jenburkt Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Many across countries are in the race to develop a vaccine of COVID-19 that can help people survive and revive economies. But that’s going to take a long time.

Drug manufacturers are ramping up production while testing is underway in order to respond as soon as possible to the virus, which is still spreading rapidly around the world. COVID-19 has killed nearly 650,000 people worldwide and battered economies.

Also watch: We know India is battling enemies like the dreaded Covid-19 & a conniving China. But there is a bigger enemy, and that one lies within.

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