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Remdesivir, favipiravir sales zoom to record Rs 1,000 crore in 7 months in Covid year

Indian pharma industry launched 44 new antiviral brands in 2020, against just 10 such launches in 2019. However, total number of new brands saw 40% decline.

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New Delhi: India launched over four times more antiviral medicines in 2020 than it did the previous year even as it launched fewer new formulations, data shows, in what can be called the Covid effect.

Two top anti-viral medicines, favipiravir and remdesivir, recorded sales of over Rs 1,000 crore in just seven months of their launch in 2020.

According to the data by research firm IQVIA, accessed by ThePrint, the Indian pharma industry launched 44 new antiviral brands in 2020, against just 10 such launches in 2019.

The two molecules which constitute the most number of these drug launches are favipiravir and remdesivir — the two most sought-after drugs used for the treatment of Covid-19. Out of all the launches, 38 were either under the favipiravir (31) or remdesivir (7) brands.

Favipiravir and remdesivir are both repurposed drugs launched in India after the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

According to IQVIA data, these two brands, when combined, recorded sales of over Rs 1,000 crore in 2020.

Despite the lower number of launches in remdesivir brands, the drug registered total sales of Rs 593 crore (from July to December 2020) — being the costlier molecule. Favipiravir posted total sales of Rs 424 crore from June to December 2020.

“The number reflects high sales with respect to a new drug. Generally, for a new product, the average sales is around Rs 200 crore but here it is clearly double or more,” said an industry veteran who represents a pharma trade lobby now.

“But the sales will fade as cases of Covid infection fall,” he added.

In terms of numbers, the majority of the brands launched in 2020 were from the anti-fungal category followed by vitamins and pain. While antiviral medicines ranked at the bottom in the top 15 brand launches of 2020, it ranked at number one in terms of the average sales value.

“While antifungals have been the highest contributor of new brands consistently over the years and in 2020, it saw a specific spike in antiseptic or sanitizer products in the months immediately after the Covid outbreak,” the research firm told ThePrint in an analysis of their data.

“Antiviral medications saw a spike in July and August months, boosted specifically by favipiravir, with some antiviral new introductions continuing through November,” it added.

Also read: Week 1 of Covid vaccination phase 2 saw some hiccups, but it was ‘smooth drive’ for most

Antiviral brands highest on value

According to the IQVIA data, the 44 new brands of antiviral medications in 2020 saw, on average, sales of Rs 23.38 crore each.

The average sales value is highest in the antiviral category, shows the data.

Antifungals, vitamins, and pain were the top three categories which launched the maximum number of brands — 360, 301, and 202, respectively, in 2020. But their average sales were much lower than the antiviral segment — at Rs 44 lakh, Rs 49 lakh, and Rs 36 lakh, respectively.

Overall industry

The data also showed that the number of new introductions in the Indian pharmaceutical market witnessed an upward trajectory until 2019 when the total number of new brands launched was at 3,895.

Last year, however, the industry registered an over 40 per cent fall in this to launch only 2,271 new brands.

In 2019, vitamin and calcium preparations had recorded the highest number of new brand introductions followed by antifungals and gastro formulations.

According to AIOCD-AWACS’s data, the annual growth in moving annual total of the Indian pharma market, which stood around Rs 1.46 lakh crore in February, is only 1.9 per cent. The reason is weak sales of top-selling categories including anti-infectives, respiratory, and pain/analgesics.

The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) is the apex lobby of over 8.5 lakh chemists across India. AWACS is its research wing.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: Covid nearing endemic phase in Delhi, won’t end completely, says minister Satyendar Jain


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