DRDO’s adjunct drug in treatment of COVID-19 to be available in hospitals across the country in June

Published : May 18, 2021 11:54 IST

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hands over DRDO’s anti-COVID drug to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in New Delhi on May 17. Photo: PTI

The Defence Research and Development Organisation’s ‘repurposed’ anti-COVID adjunct drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) was launched on May 17. At a function at New Delhi, was released by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over to the first batch of the drug to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. A box each of the sachets of the drug was handed over to Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and Lt Gen Sunil Kant of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS). Over 10,000 doses of the drug, which is powder form and comes in a sachet and is to be taken orally after being dissolved in water, are likely to be made available immediately to specific hospitals.

Developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a constituent laboratory of the DRDO, along with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad, the formulation was cleared by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on May 1 for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in patients with moderate to severe infection. The government claimed that clinical trials of 2-DG showed that the ‘homegrown’ drug helped stop viral growth in the body, thereby hastening recovery of hospitalised patients and reducing the need for supplemental oxygen.

According to the DRDO Chairman G. Satheesh Reddy, the drug will be made available to hospitals across the country from the first week of June. Said Reddy: “The first batch of anti-COVID drug 2-DG will be used in a limited manner. It will be used in AIIMS, Armed Forces hospitals, DRDO hospitals and any other places where the need arises. From June onwards it will be made available to all hospitals.”

The drug was used to treat tumorous cancer cells and contains the 2-DG molecule, which is a glucose analogue (i.e., not true glucose). As a result, according to the government, it can be easily produced and made available in large quantities.

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