Zydus Cadila received emergency use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) on Friday for the use of its antiviral drug ‘Virafin’. When administered early during Covid-19, Virafin will help patients recover faster and avoid complications, the company said.

A single-dose subcutaneous (under the skin) regimen of Virafin (Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b or PegIFN) can reduce the need for oxygen support and improve recovery time in moderate cases of Covid-19 among adults. Pharma giant Zydus said there is evidence to show that Virafin is reducing respiratory distress. In a multicentric trial conducted in 20-25 centres across India, Virafin showed lesser need for supplemental oxygen, indicating that it was able to control respiratory distress and failure, which has been one of the major challenges in treating Covid-19. Zydus also stated that 91.15 percent of adult patients treated with Virafin tested negative for coronavirus using RT-PCR in seven days.

In a press release, Cadila Health also highlighted that “the drug has also shown efficacy against other viral infections.” The drug ensures faster viral clearance and has several add-on advantages compared to other antiviral agents, the release further read.

Speaking on the development, Dr Sharvil Patel, Managing Director, Cadila Healthcare Limited said, “The fact that we are able to offer a therapy which significantly reduces the viral load when given early on can help in better disease management. It comes at a much-needed time for patients and we will continue to provide them access to critical therapies in this battle against Covid-19.”

The pharma company also added that Virafin will be available on the prescription of a medical specialist for use in hospital/institutional setups.

The development and the nod from DGCI come at a time when India is combating the deadly second wave of coronavirus. The country recorded over 3 lakh new cases and 2,263 new deaths due to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.