India's drugmakers will be 'essential' in Covid-19 therapy production, says public health expert

  • India's generic drugmakers will have an "essential" role to play in making Covid-19 therapeutics available to low- and middle-income countries, a United Nations-backed public health body has said.
  • Charles Gore, executive director of Medicines Patent Pool, told CNBC it is already working with manufacturers in the South Asian nation to expedite access.
  • India is home to the world's largest generic drugs market and has previously proven itself instrumental in distributing low-cost medicines, particularly to poorer nations.

SINGAPORE — India's generic drugmakers will have an "essential" role to play in rolling out Covid-19 therapeutics to low- and middle-income countries, a United Nations-backed public health body has said.

Charles Gore, executive director of Medicines Patent Pool, which works to improve access to medicines in developing nations, told CNBC on Wednesday that most of the drugmakers it is already working with to expedite access to coronavirus treatments are based within the South Asian country.

That number is only set to rise when leading pharmaceutical giants license their treatments for mass production.

"There could be a really important role for Indian generic drugmakers," Gore said of the fight to combat the coronavirus which has so far infected more than 56.1 million people — 8.9 million in India alone.

India is home to the world's largest generic drugs market and has previously proven itself instrumental in distributing low-cost medicines, particularly to poorer nations.

The same will be true for this pandemic, said Gore, particularly if countries are forced to bear the cost of treatments and vaccines.

"That will be important particularly if the countries themselves have to pay for these drugs. It will be essential, in fact," he said.

Gore's organization is currently working with major drug developers to obtain licenses for their treatments, so that generic drugmakers, such as those in India, can produce "cheaper" but still "high quality" versions for poorer nations.

While some treatments show promise, none are yet ready, Gore noted, saying he anticipates further data within the next three months.

Gore added that he was buoyed by further positive news this week from vaccine developers. However, he noted that roll outs will not happen quickly, and therapeutics will still be critical.

"Thinking that vaccines are going to solve this completely in the next two years is overly optimistic. We will still badly need the therapeutics, the drugs for people who actually still get sick," he said.

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