• Wednesday, May 27, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:08 am

Japan offers Avigan for free to nations battling coronavirus

  • Published at 04:59 pm April 4th, 2020
Avigan tablets-Japan-Covid-19-coronavirus
File photo: Anti-influenza Avigan tablets produced by Japan's Fujifilm are displayed in Tokyo on October 22, 2014 AFP

'Some 30 countries have made requests through diplomatic channels to Japan for the procurement of Avigan'

According to Reuters, a subsidiary of Japan's Fujifilm Holdings has developed a kind of drug Avigan, the trade name of favipiravir. It was found in Chinese clinical testing to be effective against Covid-19.

Fujifilm announced this week it has launched clinical trials to test Avigan's effectiveness against the virus and is preparing to ramp up production.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced plans to begin the trial process to have it officially approved as a coronavirus treatment in Japan."We will accelerate development of effective treatments and vaccines to ease the public's concerns as quickly as possible," Abe told lawmakers. The Japanese government has a strategic reserve of 2 million doses.

The flu virus medicate Avigan will be made accessible at no expense to nations that request it to treat the novel coronavirus, the Japanese government declared Friday.

"We are making arrangements to provide it for free,"Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told at a news conference that about 30 countries have requested Avigan through discretionary channels.

Doing so will help grow clinical examination into the drug, Suga said. At 2,617 cases as of Friday, Japan has generally not many of the more than 1 million diseases around the world, making wide clinical experiment troublesome.

Indonesia ordered 2 million doses of Avigan on March 20, and the country plans to begin clinical testing once the shipment arrives. The country has seen coronavirus cases there surge to 1,986, after going weeks without confirming infections in the early stages of the epidemic. Indonesia now has 181 deaths, placing it higher than South Korea, and second only to China in Asia, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan has also received a request from Turkeylast month and inquired about acquiring Avigan. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told a news conference on March 23 that Turkey had started using a medicine from China to treat Covid-19 patients.

Although he did not name the medicine, Turkish media and doctors later disclosed the treatment in use is favipiravir, the generic name for Avigan. Koca added the drug is more effective in treating patients in the early stages of the illness. Turkey had 20,921 confirmed cases and 425 deaths as of Friday, according to the government.

Discussions have also begun in the Trump administration, with the White House encouraging regulators to allow the drug to be administered as a possible coronavirus treatment, Politico reported, citing officials and internal documents.

Despite long-standing concerns about the drug’s risks among US researchers, such as birth defects, enthusiasm grew after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained about Avigan to President Donald Trump, Politico reported. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

German media reported on Thursday that Berlin is looking to purchase large amounts of Avigan, in hopes for stockpiling millions of packs. The drug will be distributed through university hospitals and other institutions with the help of the military.

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