June 5, 2020 / 6:42 AM / a month ago

Sun Pharma testing plant-based drug as potential COVID-19 treatment

A bird flies past the logo of Sun Pharma installed on the facade of its corporate office in Mumbai, India, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Friday it was testing a plant-derived drug, AQCH, for the potential treatment of COVID-19 as part of a mid-stage trial, with results expected by October.

AQCH is derived from tropical, climbing shrub cocculus hirsutus, which is used in Asia for its apparent medicinal properties.

The company said the trial will be conducted across 12 centers in India in 210 patients and a human safety study of the drug has been completed.

"AQCH, which is being developed for dengue, has shown broad antiviral effect in in-vitro studies and hence is being tested as a potential treatment option for COVID-19," the company said in a statement reut.rs/2zan0YU.

Drugmakers around the world are rushing to develop a treatment or vaccine for the fast-spreading novel coronavirus that has killed over 390,000 people and ravaged financial markets.

Two other Indian companies, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Strides Pharma Science Ltd, are also conducting trials in India for potential COVID-19 treatments.

Sun Pharma received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the AQCH trial in April, data from the clinical trials registry of India showed bit.ly/30bKXKw.

The drugmaker has also received DCGI approval to start clinical trials of pancreatitis drug nafamostat mesilate in COVID-19 patients.

Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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