Cipla Inks Pact with Eli Lilly to Produce, Sell Covid-19 Drug

Collaboration to enhance access to critical treatments for patients affected by the pandemic

Drug firm Eli Lilly and Company on Monday said it has inked voluntary licensing agreements with Indian drug firms — Sun Pharma, Cipla and Lupin — to expedite availability of its arthritis drug Baricitinib for treatment of COVID-19 patients in India.

The Mumbai-based company said it has signed a royalty-free, non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with Eli Lilly for Baricitinib.

Baricitinib has already received a restricted emergency use approval by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), Ministry of Health, India, for use in combination with remdesivir for the treatment of suspected or laboratory confirmed Covid-19 in hospitalised adults requiring supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

This collaboration is a step further in the company’s efforts to enhance access to critical treatments for patients affected by the pandemic, Cipla said in a statement.

The company will leverage its extensive distribution footprint to make this therapy accessible to more patients and markets, it added.

“Through the pandemic, Cipla has been at the forefront of Covid care and our partnership with Lilly is a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to care towards patients impacted by Covid-19,” Cipla Ltd MD and Global CEO Umang Vohra noted.

Cipla had last year launched a generic version of antiviral drug Remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients. The drug firm had also introduced antibody detection kits for Covid-19 in the country under the brand name ‘ELIFast’ in partnership with KARWA Ltd, under the technology transfer from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The company “has issued royalty-free, non-exclusive voluntary licenses to established Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers of generic medicines, Cipla, Lupin and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, who are collaborating with Lilly to accelerate and expand the availability of Baricitinib in India,” Eli Lilly and Company said in a statement.

The company is also in discussions with several other Indian manufacturers for the potential grant of additional voluntary licenses, it added.

“These voluntary licensing agreements will ensure high quality manufacturing and accessibility of Baricitinib during this pandemic improving the local treatment options available to positively impact the lives of people who are currently battling Covid-19 in India,” Eli Lilly and Company said.

During the pandemic, “we have responded by issuing three voluntary licenses for Baricitinib by pharmaceutical companies in India to accelerate its local manufacturing and distribution under best quality conditions. More licenses to additional Indian generic manufacturers are expected to be announced soon,” Luca Visini, Managing Director, India Subcontinent, Lilly India said.

This is in addition to the donations being offered by Lilly to the Indian government that will potentially help alleviate the burden of Covid-19, Visini said.

The company had last week said that an initial donation of 4,00,000 Baricitinib tablets through the humanitarian aid organisation, Direct Relief, is being made immediately available to the Indian government for eligible hospitalised Covid-19 patients in India and that it will work urgently to increase the quantity of donated product multifold over the coming weeks.

Baricitinib is currently registered in India for the treatment of moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adult patients who have responded inadequately to, or who are intolerant to one or more disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly and Company continues to engage in active dialogue with the regulatory authorities and government in India to donate its anti-Covid-19 treatments, including neutralising antibodies, the statement said.

On the development, Cipla MD and Global CEO Umang Vohra said, “Through the pandemic, Cipla has been at the forefront of Covid care and our partnership with Lilly is a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to care towards patients impacted by Covid-19.”

In a similar vein, Sun Pharma, India business CEO Kirti Ganorkar said, “Through this collaboration, we aim to join our forces with Lilly to accelerate access to Baricitinib in India at a time when it is most needed”.



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