Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, the famed Japanese multinational says its anti-viral drug Avigan showed promise in reducing the recovery time of non-severe COVID-19 patients in large stage clinical trials.
The results come after months of delay to check the efficacy of the originally influenza drug to inhabit the novel virus.
A Phase III clinical study involving over 150 people was undertaken by subsidiary Fujifilm Toyama Chemical found patients administered with the antiviral, also called favipiravir, recovered in 11.9 days, as compared to 14.7 days of the placebo group.
According to Kyodo News, Fujifilm’s now completed clinical trial was delayed due to pandemic related restrictions and the company is now planning to apply for government regulatory approval for use in COVID-19 patients.
In Japan, as of now, remdesivir developed by U.S. firm Gilead Sciences Inc. and a steroid drug dexamethasone was given government approval for treating COVID-19 patients.
Drugs like dexamethasone, favipiravir are being approved by healthcare regulators around the world to support the symptoms of COVID-19 patients, in most cases moderately-ill, in the absence of any approved vaccine.
Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe has earlier sought to approve the drug for use in May as he vouched for the same to treat COVID-19 patients. But at that time no credible results showed the impact of the drug on COVID-19.
In August, Fujifilm announced it was already expanding its manufacturing capacity to stockpile millions of doses of the antiviral drug as per the Japanese government’s emergency economic package while also ensuring the firm is able to deliver hundreds of thousands of doses to other governments on request.
The drug was approved by the Japanese government in 2014 to treat influenza and was under research to test the drug’s efficacy on SARS-CoVI-2, which has a similarity with the flu virus, until recently it turned out effective.
In July, Fujifilm announced it has entered a tripartite licensing agreement with the India-based pharma giant Dr. Reddy’s who secured the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the drug in the overseas market like Russia and China.
Following the lifting of the nationwide-emergency, Japan saw a resurgence in the number of new cases, but the numbers have been bought under control lately.