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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Ivermectin is of Little Help in Treating Covid but Generic Drugmakers are Cashing In

According to Bloomberg News, Taj Pharmaceuticals Ltd. had shipped for veterinary use very few amounts of Ivermectin to Russia. However, over the last year, the product has become popular for the drugmaker.

Taj Pharma has sold since July 2020, $5 million worth of ivermectin for human use not just in India but overseas. This is a great leap for a small company like Taj Pharma that is a family-owned business that has an annual revenue of $66 million.

The sales of the drug are mainly approved for treating parasites in livestock and human. There has been a surge in the sale of drugs ever since propagandists have considered it as a Covid-19 cure.

Taj Pharma is among one of the series of drugmakers that are cashing in on the sudden usage of the drug’s popularity defying or being unfazed by advisories that have been issued by the US Food and Drug Administration and the WHO or World Health Organization.

As per advisories, the clinical studies have not established any evidence that it is effective against infections due to coronavirus. However, manufacturers of this drug have continued to pitch their sales higher.

Ivermectin came into the limelight following a few initial studies that indicate that it was a potential treatment for the treatment of Covid-19. After President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and other world leaders, and podcaster Joe Rogan highlighted it, doctors across the globe have started prescribing this drug.

The original patent was held by Merck & Co. that expired in the year 1996. Following this, smaller pharma companies like Taj Pharma have started production of the drug, constituting only a fraction of the global supply of the drug.

Merck, which now sells ivermectin under the name Stromectol warned that there was no evidence depicting the effectiveness of the drug against Covid-19 infections.

As per Bloomberg News, ivermectin is used in the treatment of roundworm infections in livestock and humans. Its discoverers William Campbell and Satoshi Omura won the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 2015. Few studies have indicated that the medicine can help in reducing the viral load of Covid-19, according to research studies at Oxford University.

Health officials have also said that administering an improper dosage of the medicine can lead to seizures, dizziness, coma, nausea, and even death in some cases. It is also one of the most sought-after drugs in developing countries where availability of treatment is difficult, and regulations are lax. It found extensive usage following the Delta wave in India.

Although, Taj Pharma says that ivermectin does not form the bulk part of its business, yet it publicized on microblogging sites and other social media platforms that vaccine industry players are against the drug. It expressed the same in an oft-used line on social media platforms. Following, its statement on Twitter with hashtag #ivermectinworks, the Twitter account was suspended for a brief period.

In Indonesia, the government conducted a clinical trial in June to find out how effective ivermectin is. Following the same, PT Indofarma, which is state-owned started producing the generic version of the drug.

Since the production, it has distributed more than 334,000 bottles of the pills to various pharmacies across Indonesia. The company said that it sells the drug as an antiparasitic medicine. And the use of the medicine for other therapies is at the sole discretion of the physicians or medical practitioners depending on how they prescribe the medicine.

According to Bloomberg News, the ivermectin business for Indopharma is small with total revenue standing at 1.7 trillion rupiahs or $120 million last year.

There is a lot of potential in the drug as the company sees and is ready to launch its own brand Ivercov 12 by the end of the year.

In those countries, where there is a shortage of ivermectin for human use, people are seeking the veterinary variant as well that can cause severe side effects. 

In September, the Indian Council of Medical Research stopped using the drug for clinical management of Covid in adults. Despite that, several Indian companies continue to manufacture a quarter of the world’s manufacturing volume of the low-cost generic drug for Covid-19 and it also includes well-known pharmaceutical companies like Sun Pharmaceuticals and Emcure Pharmaceuticals. 

Bloomberg News also reports that the sale of the ivermectin products in India in August as compared to the previous year jumped almost tripled to 3.87 billion rupees or $51 million. 

Even if the governments have discouraged the use of ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19 infections, drugmakers must understand that medical practitioners will “repurpose” the use of the drug.

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Josie Patra
Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

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