DCGI approves anti-Covid drug developed by DRDO for immediate release
13 May 2021
The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) on Saturday granted approval for the anti-Covid-19 drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), developed by a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the treatment of moderate to severe coronavirus patients.
Sateesh Reddy, secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development and chairman, DRDO, said the new drug will be released either on Tuesday or Wednesday. Reddy said the drug can deal with any virus strain. This assumes importance in view of the new Covid strains emerged during the second wave of the pandemic.
The drug molecule, developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. Clinical trials have shown that higher proportion of Covid patients treated with 2-DG has become RT-PCR negative in a very short period. This drug will be of immense benefit to the people suffering from Covid-19.
DRDO took the initiative of developing anti-Covid therapeutic application of 2-DG in April 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic. INMAS-DRDO scientists conducted laboratory experiments with the help of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad and found that this molecule works effectively against SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibits the viral growth. Based on these results, Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) permitted Phase-II clinical trial of 2-DG in COVID-19 patients in May 2020.
DRDO, along with its industry partner DRL, Hyderabad, started the clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in Covid-19 patients. In Phase-II trials (including dose ranging) conducted during May to October 2020, the drug was found to be safe in Covid-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery. Phase IIa trial was conducted in six hospitals and Phase IIb (dose ranging) clinical trial was conducted at 11 hospitals all over the country. Phase-II trial was conducted on 110 patients.
In efficacy trends, the patients treated with 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC) on various endpoints. A significantly favourable trend (2.5 days difference) was seen in terms of the median time to achieving normalisation of specific vital signs parameters when compared to SoC.
Based on successful results, DCGI further permitted the Phase-III clinical trials in November 2020. The Phase-III clinical trial was conducted on 220 patients between December 2020 to March 2021 at 27 Covid hospitals in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The detailed data of phase-III clinical trial was presented to DCGI. In 2-DG arm, significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42 per cent vs 31 per cent) by Day-3 in comparison to SoC, indicating an early relief from oxygen therapy/dependence.
Similar trend was observed in patients aged more than 65 years. On 1 May 2021, DCGI granted permission for emergency use of this drug as adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.
Being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country. The drug comes in powder form in sachet, which is taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the virus infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.
In the ongoing second Covid-19 wave, a large number of patients are facing severe oxygen dependency and need hospitalisation. The drug is expected to save precious lives due to the mechanism of operation of the drug in infected cells. This also reduces the hospital stay of Covid-19 patients.