Lab technicians produce Covid-19 diagnostic kits in a laboratory in Faridabad
Technicians inside a testing lab | Representational image | T Narayan | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: Decades-old antibiotic, Teicoplanin, has shown potential in treating Covid-19 and can be ten to 20 times more effective than HCQ and other drugs being currently used. 

Teicoplanin belongs to a class of antibiotics called ‘glycopeptide’, which kills bacteria by preventing them from forming the bacterial protective wall that is needed for them to survive. 

The drug, administered in the form of injection, is mostly used to treat bacterial infections of skin and soft tissues, blood, heart, bones and lungs, including pneumonia.

A recent study by IIT-Delhi has found that clinically approved teicoplanin can be a potential therapeutic option against Covid.

Published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, the study by the institute’s Kusuma School of Biological Sciences has found that “teicoplanin is about 10–20 fold more potent in inhibiting protease activity than other drugs in use, such as lopinavir, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, atazanavir etc.”

The study, titled ‘Screening and evaluation of approved drugs as inhibitors of main protease of SARS-CoV-2’, has studied some of the popular drugs under clinical trials for Covid-19 such as hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), chloroquine, nitazoxanide, oseltamivir, amoxicillin, famciclovir, aciclovir, lopinavir, atazanavir, and azithromycin. But it found teicoplanin as more effective than all the other drugs.

“Teicoplanin emerged as the best inhibitor among all drug molecules we screened against 3CLPro of SARS-CoV-2,” it said.

It further added that the drug plays a role as “a potent inhibitor of main protease” and the researchers said they “speculate its role as to halt the replication of the virus”.

Also read: Sufficient Vitamin D levels can prevent severity of Covid infection — Boston University study

Market for Teicoplanin in India 

According to the data by research firm AIOCD-AWACS, the market worth of Teicoplanin is around Rs 106 crore as of August 2020. India sold almost 7.6 lakh units of the injection in the last one year until August.  

In India, there are around 15 pharmaceutical companies producing the drug.

French pharma major Sanofi captures the majority share with its brand ‘Targocid’ in the Indian market followed by brands manufactured by domestic drug makers, including Glenmark, Biocon, Cipla, Lupin, Zydus Cadila and Torrent Pharmaceuticals.

The price of the drug varies between Rs 820 and Rs 2,200 per unit according to the size and strength (mostly 100-400 mg) of the formulation.

The drug is generally considered safe as its reported side-effects include minor reactions on injection sites such as pain and swelling, itching, skin rashes and fever. 

But, pharma majors also warn of changes in parameters of liver and kidney function, in case of prolonged usage, on the leaflet given along with the drug.

How does the drug work? 

Approved in 1997 by the country’s apex drug regulator DCGI, the drug is indicated for the treatment of serious gram positive infection and staphylococcal infection in patients, who are sensitive or unresponsive to penicillin. However, it is given under several other conditions too.

The drug works on the “gram-positive” bacteria, which are known for creating a complex cell wall that is 40-80 layers thick and makes it easy for any foreign material such as SARS-COV-2 virus to get absorbed. Teicoplanin works by stopping the process of formation of the cell wall. 

Some known gram-positive bacteria are staphylococci, streptococci, pneumococci, among others. 

Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria cause different diseases and both require different treatments.

Also read: Serum Institute will deliver 10 crore more doses of Covid vaccine to India, other countries


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