New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases across the country, the central government on Friday approved the “restricted emergency” use of Itolizumab, a drug used to cure skin ailment psoriasis, to treat moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.

In a statement, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) said that it has granted permission to use Itolizumab injection for the “restricted emergency” on COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) due to virus.

According to officials, Itolizumab is already an approved drug of Biocon for treating psoriasis for last many years. The officials, however, noted that written informed consent of each patient is required before the use of this drug.

“The approval was given after its clinical trials on Covid-19 patients in India was found satisfactory by the expert committee comprising pulmonologists, pharmacologists and medicine experts from AIIMS, among others, for treatment of cytokine release syndrome,” news agency PTI quoted a DCGI official as saying.

What is Itolizumab?

Itolizumab is a “first in class” humanised IgG1 monoclonal antibody which is used to cure skin ailment psoriasis. It is already an approved drug of Biocon Ltd used for the treatment of patients with active moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis for the last many years.

According to reports, the drug targets CD6, a pan T cell marker involved in co-stimulation, adhesion and regulates maturation of T cells. It also causes reduction in synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduces T cell infiltration at sites of inflammation.

The DCGI in January 2013 had authorised Biocon for marketing for the drug. After authorisation from DCGI, marketing of Itolizumab within India had commenced in August 2013.  

Coronavirus Pandemic in India:

The novel coronavirus, which originated in China’s Wuhan, is rising at an alarming rate in India. So far, the deadly virus, which is caused by SARS‑CoV‑2, has affected over 8 lakh people and claimed the lives of over 22,000. The recovery rate in India stands at 62.78 per cent as over 5 lakh people have been cured and discharged from hospitals.

According to Union Health Ministry, 30 states and Union Territories have a fatality rate lower than the national average. There are 30 states and UTs which have a fatality rate lower than the national average which includes Kerala (0.41 pc), Jharkhand (0.71 pc), Bihar (0.82 pc), Telangana (1.07 pc), Tamil Nadu (1.39 pc), Haryana (1.48 pc), Rajasthan (2.18 pc), Punjab (2.56 pc) and Uttar Pradesh (2.66 pc).

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma