Over four times more antiviral medicines were launched in 2020 than the year before despite fewer new formulations being launched, ThePrint has reported. Calling it the ‘Covid effect’, the report states that two top anti-viral medicines, favipiravir and remdesivir, recorded sales of over Rs 1,000 crore in just seven months of their launch, during last year.
According to data from research firm IQVIA, the Indian pharmaceutical industry released 44 new antiviral brands in 2020, compared to only 10 in 2019.
Favipiravir and remdesivir are the two most sought-after molecules for the treatment of Covid-19, and they account for the majority of these drug launches. The favipiravir (31) and remdesivir (7) brands were responsible for 38 of the launches. Favipiravir and remdesivir are two repurposed drugs that were introduced in India following the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to IQVIA numbers, the combined sales of these two brands exceeded Rs 1,000 crore in 2020.
Remdesivir, being the more expensive molecule, recorded total sales of Rs 593 crore from July to December 2020, despite its lower number of launches. Favipiravir posted total sales of Rs 424 crore from June to December 2020.
An industry veteran who represents a pharma trade lobby told thePrint that 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,” they said.
However, they warned that the sales would fade as cases of Covid-19 fell in the future.
In terms of numbers, the antifungal group had the most new products released in 2020, followed by vitamins and pain. Antiviral drugs were at the bottom of the list of the top 15 brand launches in 2020, but they were at the top in terms of average sales value.