Ranabaxy laboratories launched India’s first indigenously developed new medicine to cure malaria on Wednesday. The new drug, Syrniam, is priced at Rs. 130 for a three-tablet course to treat plasmodium falciparum malaria in adults. It has a cure rate of 95%.
The dosage is simple as the patient is required to take just one tablet a day for three days, compared to other treatments that need to be taken in combination of two to four tablets, twice daily, for three or more days. The drug also needs no dietary restrictions of fatty foods or milk, as is needed in existing anti-malarial therapies.
“Since Synriam has a synthetic source, production can be scaled up whenever required and a consistent supply can be maintained at a low cost. We hope that this could potentially replace artemisinin-based combination therapies, which have their limitations in terms of production and supply as the molecules are derived from plants,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union health minister, at the launch.
India accounts for over 75% of the 2.5 million reported cases of malaria in southeast Asia.
The Drug Controller General of India-approved drug is the result of a public-private partnership worth R150 crore.
The drug launch ended a 15-year drug discovery wait for Indian drug manufacturers who had been focussing on developing generic drugs. The National Institute of Malaria Research of ICMR, in partnerships with medical colleges and hospitals in Odisha, Karnataka and Jharkhand, planned and conducted the clinical studies.
Arun Sawhney, CEO and managing director, Ranbaxy, said: “Besides cost effectiveness, the compliance (one tablet a day) and convenience (any time) are the other positives about the drug, which Ranbaxy took eight years to develop.”
“The new drug will be marketed in India first, and then we also plan to take it to other countries,” said Sudershan Arora, president, research and development at Ranbaxy.