The Drug Controller General of India has approved the use of Itolizumab, a drug to cure psoriasis, for “restricted emergency use” to treat Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress, PTI reported on Saturday. Drugs Controller General of India Dr VG Somani approved an injection of the drug to treat cytokine release syndrome among coronavirus patients.

“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 All India Institute of Medical Sciences, among others, for treatment of cytokine release syndrome,” an official told PTI. “It is already an approved drug of Biocon for treating psoriasis for last many years.”

The official added that written, informed consent of each patient is required before administering the drug to them.

There is no cure for the coronavirus, and treatment is symptomatic, though the recovery rate both in India and globally is high. On June 13, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare approved the use of remdesivir for “restricted emergency use” in moderate cases. Hyderabad-based drugmaker Hetero said that it will deliver the first set of remdesivir medicine to Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat at price of Rs 5,400 per vial.

Countries across the world are also racing to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. On July 2, the Indian Council of Medical Research directed clinical trial sites of Covaxin – India’s first coronavirus vaccine candidate – to fast-track approvals and said that it planned to launch the vaccine for public use by August 15. However, the directive was heavily criticised for setting an unreasonable deadline.

As of Saturday morning, India has reported 8,20,916 cases of the coronavirus, the third-highest in the world. As many as 22,123 people have died, but 5,15,385 have recovered.

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