BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian drug developer Hetero said on Monday it has received emergency use approval from the country’s health authorities to make a generic version of Roche Holding AG’s COVID-19 drug.
Hetero expects to make the treatment, tocilizumab, available in India by the end of the month under the brand name Tocira. Tocilizumab has been facing a global shortage as the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant drives up cases in several countries.
COVID-19 cases in India have declined from levels hit during the second wave in April and May, although health experts believe that the country should brace for a third wave by October.
Roche’s blockbuster arthritis drug, tocilizumab, cuts the risk of death among patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 along with shortening the recovery time and reducing the need for mechanical ventilation.
Tocira will be made by Hetero’s unit at its Hyderabad facility.
Hetero, which makes COVID-19 treatments like remdesivir and favipiravir, had also sought emergency approval for Merck’s COVID-19 drug molnupiravir in July.
(Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)