COVID-19: MGC Pharma in talks with SEA countries for clinically backed supplement

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

ArtemiC consists of curcumin, artemisinin, vitamin C, and Boswellia serrata.
ArtemiC consists of curcumin, artemisinin, vitamin C, and Boswellia serrata.

Related tags COVID-19 Australia

ASX-listed MGC Pharma is in talks with South East Asia (SEA) countries to make its clinically backed oral supplement trademarked ArtemiC commercially available for COVID-19 patients.

This is on the back of the company’s promising clinical findings on the oral spray supplement made up of artemisinin, curcumin, vitamin C, and Boswellia serrata. 

The findings, announced yesterday (Dec 15), showed that all of the patients receiving the supplement plus standard care fully recovered in 15 days of follow up.

Involving 50 COVID-19 patients, the phase II double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial took place in three hospitals across Israel and India.

Thirty-three received the supplement plus standard care, while the remaining 17 patients were in the placebo group and only received standard care.

None in the intervention group required additional oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or admission to the ICU, while this was the case for 23.4% of the patients in the placebo group.

The National Early Warning Score (NEWS), which determines the degree of illness and is the main parameter of clinical improvement in COVID-19 patients, also dropped from 1.5152 to 0.5152 in the intervention group but increased from 1.8824 to 2.2353 in the placebo group.

The company believes that the results will open up more market opportunities for the supplement.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Ron Lipsky, VP business development revealed that the company was already in talks with two SEA countries’ governments via local companies on the commercial sale of the nutraceutical.

This is on top of the commercial deals that it has already sealed with SK Pharma subsidiary, K. S. KIM, in Israel, Russia, and Eastern European countries.

“I think within the next couple of weeks, you will see letters of commitment from the government, health organisations that will say that they are interested in ordering the product.

“We are interested in engaging Asia-Pacific countries for sure,”​ Lipsky said.

He added that the company was willing to work with governments in conducting observational trials using ArtemiC on COVID-19 patients.

A bottle of ArtemiC costs 70 euros (US$85), which will serve as a cost saving measure for governments for their public health services. 

artemic pic

More trials

The next step for ArtemiC, is a phase III trial that could take place in the first half of next year.

It will be an international multi-centre study with up to 250 patients, and will research the supplements’ effects on diseases related to cytokine storm, such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, flu, as well as its effects on patients undergoing chemotherapy. 

With the phase III trial, the company will look to develop the formula as a pharmaceutical product and future development as an Investigational Medicinal Product.

As a pharmaceutical product, the formula might be tweaked to add in some other ingredients such as phyto-cannabinoids.  

“We have done a lot of research on its [Artemic’s] effects on COVID-19, but when we look towards next generation and other iterations of the product, it is hard to say what it might also include, maybe phyto-cannabinoids, maybe some other elements that could be valuable,”​ Lipsky said.  

Sale of MGC Nutraceuticals

On the other hand, the company will be selling its subsidiary MGC Nutraceuticals to a new US hemp and cannabinoid wellness company known as Onassis.

As part of the deal, the company will receive shares equating to US$6m in Onassis and also share an exclusive supply agreement.

MGC Nutraceuticals is a specialist in cannabinoid (CBD) nutraceuticals​, including CBD hemp protein powder.

The agreement will also see the firm’s provision of its CBD, raw materials, and proprietary production IP to Onassis for the production of nutraceuticals.

Lipsky said that the sale of the subsidiary would allow MGC Pharma to complete its shift to a full biopharma company. 

"MGC Pharma’s focus will be on our pipeline phytomedicines, supported by a full clinical agenda. Nutraceuticals was doing well, but requires attention and should not be playing second fiddle to other priorities."

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