New Delhi: The first batch of DRDO-developed anti-Covid drug 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-glucose) was launched on Monday to treat patients suffering from the deadly disease. The medicine comes in powder form and can be taken with water.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan released the first batch of the 2-DG, an anti-Covid-19 therapeutic application of the drug developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL).

Rajnath Singh handed over the anti-Covid drug to his cabinet colleague Harsh Vardhan who handed over it to Delhi All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Randeep Guleria at an event here.

The Defence Minister would be later distributing around 10,000 doses of the drug to a few hospitals in the national capital.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted emergency use nod for the drug last week. The drug could be a game-changer in the battle against pandemic as it helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces oxygen dependence.

Clinical trial results have shown that the drug helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. Higher proportion of patients treated with 2-DG showed RT-PCR negative conversion in Covid patients.

The medicine was found to be safe for Covid-19 patients in phase 2 trials, conducted between May and October last year. It was found to be effective in cutting short the hospital stays of Covid patients and reducing their supplemental oxygen dependence.

During the first wave of the pandemic in April last year, INMAS-DRDO scientists conducted laboratory experiments with the help of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and found that this molecule works effectively against SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibits the viral growth.

Based on these results, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) permitted Phase-II clinical trial of 2- DG in Covid-19 patients in May 2020. The DRDO, along with its industry partner DRL, Hyderabad, started the clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the drug in Covid-19 patients.

In Phase-II trials (including dose ranging) conducted during May-October 2020, the drug was found to be safe in Covid-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery. Phase-II was conducted in six hospitals and Phase IIb (dose ranging) clinical trial was conducted at 11 hospitals all over the country. Phase-II trial was conducted on 110 patients.