Two local drug makers — Beacon and Beximco pharmaceuticals — have produced Favipiravir, an antiviral drug that is being used by some countries to treat the Covid-19 patients.
They will give the medicine to the government and the hospitals where coronavirus patients are being treated instead of selling it to the pharmacies.
"It took us just one month to make the drug. We are excited," Mohammad Ebadul Karim, managing director of Beacon Pharma, told The Business Standard.
Beacon will hand over the drug to the Directorate General of Drug Administration on Sunday.
But making the drug was not that easy as there was no confirmed data and raw materials, Karim said.
In the first batch, Beacon has produced Favipiravir for 100 patients only and the company is on the way to boost production by this month.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals will give the medicine directly to the hospitals where Covid-19 patients are being treated, said Rabbur Reza, chief operating officer of the company.
"We have made drug on fast track and informed the government and hospitals about it," Reza said.
Though the price has been set at Tk400 a tablet, he said they would give it for free.
As there is no confirmed drug for Covid-19 patients, different countries are using different types of influenza antiviral drugs.
For example, Japan and China have used Favipiravir, marketed as Avigan by Fujifilm Toyama in Japan. Also, Turkey has recently used it.
Reza said commonly used molecules for Covid-19 were lopinavir/ritonavir, favipiravir, oseltamivir, remdesivir, chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) etc. HCQ and chloroquine and Azithromycin combination became popular due a relatively large trial in Europe and Trump's bold statement on this combination.
"Covid-19 has different phases – mild, moderate and serious. There is no harm in giving the drug at the mild stage," he said.
Favipiravir is a patented drug in Japan, but Bangladesh as a least developed country can make and market the medicine till 2033.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not specifically approved any medication for treating Covid-19. World Health Organization, UK National Health Service and Australian health authorities have not provided any advice on the use of Favipiravir.