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CSIR to begin two clinical drug trials to combat COVID-19

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has received approval from Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for its two clinical trial drugs - 'favipiravir' and 'phytopharmaceutical' - to combat coronavirus.

Favipiravir is a drug which is commonly used in Japan, China and some other countries, to treat influenza that has a very broad spectrum of RNA polymerase.

The CSIR is exploring a native herb as a biological medicine or phytopharmaceutical, which is already being tested as medicine for dengue for its efficacy to combat COVID-19.

CSIR Director General Shekhar Mande said that they will start the clinical trial within a week.

"The CSIR is working with multiple renowned pharmaceutical companies and trying to see whether we can bring a certain solution to the market as an intervention against COVID-19. In this regard, few clinical trials have already been initiated in partnership with certain companies last night. The DCGI has given us approval for clinical trials of two drugs so we will soon begin with it," he said.

Phytopharmaceutical is essentially a herbal medicine extracted from plants. It is a cocktail of different compounds but has a biological origin from a plant. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) terms it botanical, however, in India the DCGI calls it phytopharmaceutical.

In May 2016, a renowned pharmaceutical company and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Delhi, had signed an agreement to develop a botanical drug for treatment against dengue.

"We are already testing the efficacy of this medicine against dengue and it is in the advanced stage in phase-II human trials. The mechanisms of treatment are similar," Mande said.

Speaking about favipiravir, he said it is a safe drug and its trail is expected to be completed in about 1.5 months. "It the tests are successful with the expected results, then this drug will be available soon at affordable prices. A big reason for this is that favipiravir is an old medicine the patent of which has now expired," he said. (ANI)

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