Kolkata hospital part of Covid drug trial – ET HealthWorld

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Kolkata: The Swiss-made Tocilizumab, which is in high demand for treatment of severely infected Covid-19 patients, will be pitted against an Indian drug of the same formulation to study if the latter matches up to the efficacy of the original product.

Peerless Hospital will be among 10 Indian hospitals where Tocilizumab’s Indian version will undergo ‘therapeutic equivalent trial’.

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Tocilizumab is used for inhibiting cytokine storm which many Covid-19 infected patients undergo. If the uncontrolled cytokine production is not countered, it could affect various organs of the patient.

“The human body produces cytokine as defence whenever there is any infection/inflammation. But the trouble is when the cytokine production gets uncontrolled. Tocilizumab is used to fight this cytokine storm,” said Ajoy Sarkar, clinical director, critical care unit at Peerless. Sarkar will be the principal investigator.

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Currently, the drug is being imported and due to the high demand and its scarcity, there have been instances of black marketing during the second wave. Priced at Rs 40,000 a vial, patients need to be given the injection before they land up on ventilation. Due to the shortage, its supply is being rationed and centralised from the state health department.

“The window period during which a patient has to be administered the drug is crucial for better outcome. If the Indian version being produced by Hetero Pharma proves its efficacy and is approved, the supply chain will improve. Besides, it’s cheaper,” said Sarkar.

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During the trial, a section of patients will be given Swiss-made drug while another set will get the Hetero Pharma’s product. The outcome will be complied and compared. Patients who will be part of the trial will get the drug free of cost.

The DCGI as well as the hospital’s ethics committee have already given green signal to the trial which is expected to begin in about a week.

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