DCGI has approved the emergency use of 2-deoxy-D-glucose drug that helps in the faster recovery of hospitalized patients and reduces oxygen dependency. The clinical trials conducted by DRDO have shown promising results. The drug, although not being the eureka moment for the research of a potential cure, is an effective life saver.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved the emergency use of the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe cases of Covid-19. This is an excellent option at a time when India is still grappling with an acute shortage of oxygen. It is believed that this drug would help in saving more lives by reducing dependency on supplemental oxygen.
When the pandemic hit India in April 2020, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences(INMAS), a leading lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation, also known as DRDO, along with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology(CCMB), Hyderabad began experimenting on 2-DG. They discovered that the drug works effectively against the coronavirus and halts its spread in the cells. Based on the lab findings, DCGI gave a nod to conduct the phase-II trial.
They were conducted from May to October 2020 on 110 patients. Phase-II(a) was conducted in 6 hospitals, while Phase-II(b) in 11 hospitals across the country. Phase-III trials were conducted on 220 patients between December 2020 to March 2021 at 27 hospitals in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The results of the trials conducted by DRDO have been very good. The drug is safe as none of the patients have developed any side effects. All the patients on whom the drug was administered recovered 2-3 days faster compared to just the primary treatment (Standard of Care). The drug showed to reduce the dependence on supplemental oxygen. Similar results were observed in patients aged above 65 years.
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The 2-DG spreads throughout the body and accumulates in the virus-infected cells. Here, it prevents the multiplication of the virus and treats the cells infected by the virus. The drug also works on virus infection spread into lungs which helps to decrease patient’s dependability on oxygen. It comes in powdered form and can be taken by dissolving in water. The price of the drug is expected to be within the budget of the common man ranging between 500-600 INR.
Being a generic molecule and an analogue of glucose, there would not be an issue of scarcity of the drug. It can be easily produced within the country and made available in plenty. The labs have been given a go for the production. Soon the drug will be available to the public in the required quantity. In the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, quite a number of COVID patients have lost their lives owing to the scarcity of supplemental oxygen. The drug is expected to give similar patients a new lease of life by reducing dependence on supplemental oxygen. Stats reveal that the drug is reducing the hospital stay of patients. However, experts confirm it is not to be considered as a ‘miracle cure’. And the hunt for best possible cure continues. However, a solution like this can definitely ease the burden on the medical system and save lives at crucial-critical junctures. That’s what makes us all the more hopeful.