We reported a few days ago here, how Zhang Xinmin, director of the science ministry’s China National Center for Biotechnology Development, said that the Fujifilm produced drug Avigan “has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment”.
We also reported how a Japanese health ministry source suggested the drug was not as effective in people with more severe symptom.
Shortly after that Fujifilm has issued an official statement you can read here.
Now Fujifilm published another official statement, where they announce the start of phase III clinical trial of “Avigan” on COVID-19 Coronavirus and the commitment to increase production.
Fujifilm announces the start of a phase III clinical trial of influenza antiviral drug “Avigan Tablet” on COVID-19 and commits to increasing production
TOKYO, March 31, 2020 — FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. (President: Junji Okada) has announced today the initiation of a phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of influenza antiviral drug “Avigan Tablet” (generic name: favipiravir) in Japan for patients of COVID-19, a respiratory infection caused by the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
Following the rapid and global outbreak of COVID-19, on March 11 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Coronavirus had become a global pandemic. As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase around the world, the development of effective treatments is urgently required.
Avigan, approved for manufacture and sale as an influenza antiviral drug in Japan, has a mechanism of action for selectively inhibiting RNA polymerase involved in influenza viral replication. Due to this mechanism, it is expected that Avigan may potentially have an antiviral effect on the new coronavirus as it is classified into the same type of single-stranded RNA virus as influenza, and its clinical application to treat COVID-19 is now under study.
In early March, Fujifilm already began increased production of Avigan and now plan to accelerate the production of Avigan through cooperation with domestic and overseas partners for responding to the needs of the Japanese government and other countries.
Fujifilm intends to sincerely cooperate with the supply of Avigan to such countries in consultation and coordination with the Japanese government to combat COVID-19 and contribute to tackling the spread of this global pandemic at the earliest possible stage.
Avigan Tablet was approved for manufacture and sale in Japan in 2014 as an influenza antiviral drug. The drug is to be considered for use only when there is an outbreak of novel or re-emerging influenza virus infections in which other influenza antiviral drugs are either not effective or insufficiently effective, and the Japanese government decides to use the drug as a countermeasure against such influenza viruses. The drug is to be supplied only at the discretion of Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. It is therefore only manufactured and distributed upon request by the Japanese Government. As such, while the Japanese government has a certain stockpile of the drug, Avigan has never been distributed in the market and is not available at hospitals and pharmacies in Japan or overseas.
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