April 30, 2020 / 4:35 AM / a month ago

India's Glenmark to conduct trials for potential COVID-19 drug, shares jump

BENGALURU, April 30 (Reuters) - Shares of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd rose almost 9% on Thursday after the Indian drugmaker got an approval to conduct clinical trials with antiviral drug favipiravir, seen as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Favipiravir, manufactured under the brand name Avigan by a unit of Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp and approved for use as an anti-flu drug in the Asian island country in 2014, has been effective, with no obvious side-effects, in helping coronavirus patients recover, a Chinese official told reporters at a news conference last month.

"After having successfully developed the API and the formulations ... Glenmark is all geared to immediately begin clinical trials on favipiravir on COVID-19 patients in India," Sushrut Kulkarni, executive vice-president for Global R&D, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, said in a statement reut.rs/2VNF43h.

The Drug Controller General of India, the country’s drug regulator, did not immediately respond to Reuters request for a comment.

On Wednesday, another Indian pharmaceutical company, Strides Pharma Science Ltd, said it had developed and commercialized favipiravir antiviral tablets, and had applied to Indian drug authorities to start trials.

Shares of Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, which rose as much as 8.9% to 359 rupees ($4.78), was trading up 5.9%, as of 0407 GMT.

($1 = 75.1200 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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