Japan may donate flu drug Avigan to other countries to cure COVID-19 patients. The medicine was made to treat influenza in Japan in the past. However, some doctors in Wuhan, China noted that the drug proved effective for treating COVID-19 patients as well.
The Japanese government is planning to donate the drug to other countries that want to use it to treat coronavirus patients, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday (Friday).
“Some 30 countries have requested Japan to provide Avigan so that they could use it to treat COVID-19 patients,” Suga said at a news conference. “We’re coordinating with the relevant authorities to provide the necessary quantities of the drug for free to countries needing it.”
The drug, originally developed by Fujifilm Holdings Corp. to cure influenza in Japan, is considered effective for treating COVID-19.
“We intend to expand clinical research on Avigan with countries wishing to cooperate,” the government’s top spokesman said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference on March 28 that the government will push the development of vaccines and drugs to fight the pneumonia-causing virus.
Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., the manufacturer of the drug, said last Tuesday it had begun clinical testing to evaluate the efficacy of Avigan for COVID-19 patients, In Japan, the drug is also known as Favipiravir.
On Thursday, the German health ministry said it plans to purchase Avigan tablets to be used in treating coronavirus patients. German media said it will buy several million tablets for patients with severe symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
A study by researchers at Wuhan University and other institutions in China has shown cases in which Avigan was effective against the new coronavirus, especially for those with mild symptoms.
Avigan was manufactured and stocked in Japan as an influenza drug. There is hope it can eventually be used to help treat virus-related diseases like Ebola and COVID-19. If the drug shows promising results for coronavirus patients in different countries, it could be a game-changer to combat the disease effectively.