Lupin eyes deals with foreign players

Published on May 17, 2021 02:51 AM IST

The company is also exploring partnerships with Pfizer and Moderna for their covid-19 vaccines, Gupta said, though it is not close to any agreements in this respect yet.

Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta.(MINT_PRINT)
Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta.(MINT_PRINT)
Livemint | ByLeroy Leo, New Delhi

Lupin Ltd is working on acquiring licences and partnerships for various Covid-19 drugs and vaccines, chief executive officer Vinita Gupta said, after the drug maker missed out on launching drugs in the first wave of the pandemic.

The company is also exploring partnerships with Pfizer and Moderna for their covid-19 vaccines, Gupta said, though it is not close to any agreements in this respect yet. “Yes, we are definitely more active in the second wave, and that’s why you see that we got a voluntary licence from (Eli) Lilly for baricitinib. Likewise, there are others that we are pursuing right now across multiple therapeutics, including ‘mabs’,” Gupta said, referring to monoclonal antibodies used to treat covid-19.

Examples of such ‘mabs’ include Roche’s tocilizumab and Biocon’s itolizumab used to treat cytokine storms in severe covid-19 patients, and Regeneron’s antibody cocktail of casirivimab and imdevimab, which recently was authorized in India to treat people with mild to moderate infections and are at high risk of hospitalization. However, Gupta did not disclose which ‘mabs’ the company is working on for getting a licence to manufacture.

Last month, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Corp. had signed a voluntary pact with five Indian companies—Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Hetero Labs Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd—for the production of molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral agent. MSD, in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is currently conducting a phase 3 trial for the drug to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 patients.

In terms of its Covid-19 drug portfolio, while Lupin was not part of the initial five Indian companies to sign a voluntary licensing pact with Merck, Gupta said the company is in talks for a licence for molnupiravir and is also working on two other undisclosed products, including one inhalation product that is in development.

Lupin, however, has not been able to make significant headway in partnering with foreign vaccine makers, despite being keen on distributing their covid-19 jabs, especially those based on messenger RNA, in India.

Gupta said Lupin is in discussions with both executives at the headquarters of some US-based developers as well as the Indian arm of the vaccine makers.

About talks with Moderna, Gupta said, “We have reached out to them and they have informed us that they have plans. But we don’t know yet what those plans are.”

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