VISAKHAPATNAM: A cocktail drug—a combination of neutralising antibodies, Casirivimab and Imdevimab—has been approved for restricted emergency use by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults and pediatric patients with SARS-CoV 2 infection and who are at high risk of contracting Covid-19, but don’t require oxygen.
Andhra Medical College principal Dr P V Sudhakar told TNIE, “In clinical trials, the infusion of the drug in Covid-19 patients has reduced hospitalisation cases and the risk of death by 70 per cent. However, the drug has to be given within five to six days of the onset of the symptoms.” The Cocktail drug needs to be given soon after the infection (RT PCR positivity) and within 10 days of symptom onset. “The earlier it is administered, the better,” he said.
The medication was approved by the Drug Controller General of India towards May-end. Currently, government hospitals in Visakhapatnam do not have the drug, Dr Sudhakar said. “The State government has not acquired the drug so far,” he confirmed. He said the reason may be probably because the severity of the virus and the number of patients has decreased.
KIMS Icon Hospital consultant pulmonologist Dr KS Phaneendra Kumar explained data suggests that the susceptibility of the antibodies was maintained even against the variants in UK, South Africa, Brazil, New York, and California. The mutants of some of these variants are also found in Indian double mutant variants. “The combination of Casirivimab and Imdevimab comprise two noncompeting, virus-neutralising monoclonal antibodies. Casirivimab and Imdevimab bind different, non-overlapping epitopes ( also called antigenic determinant) on the SARS-CoV 2 spike (S) glycoprotein and block entry of the virus into the cells. Viral/antibody complex is then cleared by the immune system,” he said.
Dr Kumar said as the success rate of the drug is high, it is easier to obtain it. “It ensures that oxygen levels don’t drop, sugar levels don’t fluctuate,” he added. He said many private hospitals in the city currently are using the drug in Covid-19 treatment. Dr Kumar explained that the drug shows promising results. The drug costs approximately Rs 60,000. The approved dosage in India is 1,200 mg (600 mg of each drug) administered by intravenous infusion or subcutaneous route.
Clinical data suggests that these neutralising antibodies are generally well tolerated, he added. “Possible side effects of Casirivimab and Imdevimab include fever, difficulty in breathing, chills, fatigue, discomfort, weakness, nausea, headache, throat irritation and rash. Severe hypersensitivity reactions have been reported rarely,” he said.