BENGALURU (Reuters) - Lupin Ltd <LUPN.NS> on Wednesday became the latest Indian drugmaker to launch a version of the antiviral drug favipiravir to treat COVID-19 in the world's third most affected country.
A slew of generic drug manufacturers including Cipla Ltd <CIPL.NS>, Sun Pharma <SUN.NS> and Hetero Labs have been developing favipiravir after India approved it as an as emergency treatment for mild to moderate COVID-19.
Indian hospitals have suffered a shortage of critical COVID-19 drugs such as remdesivir in recent weeks, but the bottlenecks are expected to ease soon as manufacturers ramp up production.
Favipiravir has shown promise in clinical trials in India and Russia, but faces uncertain prospects in Japan, where it was originally developed by Fujifilm Holdings <4901.T>, after disappointing clinical studies.
Lupin's version of the drug, called Covihalt, will be priced at 49 rupees (0.50 pounds) per 200 mg-tablet, it said. Sun Pharma on Tuesday launched its own version, at 35 rupees, so far the cheapest in India.
Shares in Lupin, one of India's top generic drug makers, were little changed in midday trading.
Coronavirus infections in India topped 1.9 million on Wednesday, after rising by more than 50,000 for seven straight days. The country has the world's third most affected after the United States and Brazil.
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)