Japan offers anti-flu drug Avigan for free to fight coronavirus

PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe says Japan is offering the anti-flu drug Avigan free of charge to countries battling the Covid-19 coronavirus. The drug, developed by a group firm of Fujifilm Holdings, has shown early signs of being effective in helping to treat the virus.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that some 30 countries have made requests through diplomatic channels to Japan for the procurement of Avigan.

“Above all we intend to expand clinical research on Avigan with countries wishing to cooperate.”

Abe says his government will push the development of drugs and vaccines, including Avigan, to fight the coronavirus.

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Fujifilm Toyama Chemical said it has started clinical tests to evaluate the efficacy of the drug, also known as Favipiravir, on Covid-19 patients.

Meanwhile Germany’s health ministry says it will seek to buy Avigan for the country’s Covid-19 coronavirus cases. German media say the ministry will buy several million Avigan tablets to treat patients with severe symptoms.

A critical step in the current testing process involves clinical trials in Japan, one of which will conclude at the end of June. And while there are not any detailed clinical reports supporting Avigan’s effectiveness as a Covid-19 treatment, there are reasons for optimism. One of them arrived on March 17, when Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s ministry of science and technology, said that Favipiravir, the generic version of Avigan, had proved to be effective in treating Covid-19 patients at hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen, China.

South Korea declined opportunities for testing, saying “serious side effects” potentially cause fetal damage.

While Avigan has been manufactured and stocked in Japan as an anti-influenza drug, there is hope it can also help treat other diseases, including Ebola and tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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