TOKYO — According to published reports, Fujifilm has begun clinical trials to test the effectiveness of its anti-flu drug Avigan in treating patients with the new coronavirus, after reports of promising results in China.
“The trial will be conducted on 100 patients until the end of June,” said company spokesman.
“We will collect data, analyse them and file for approval after that,” he added.
The phase three trial comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that the government “will begin the necessary process to formally approve (Avigan) as a treatment against the new coronavirus”.
China has already completed clinical trials on favipiravir, the main ingredient in Avigan, the country’s ministry of science and technology said last month.
Two trials in the country found the drug shortened recovery time for patients, but Fujifilm was not involved in those programs.
Avigan is currently approved for manufacture and sale in Japan as an antiviral drug for flu.
“It is expected that Avigan may potentially have an antiviral effect on the new coronavirus” given the way it works on the flu virus, Fujifilm said in a statement announcing the trial.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat malaria have shown early promise against the COVID-19 illness in early studies in France and China.
The drug will be administered for a maximum of 14 days to coronavirus patients between 20 and 74 years old with mild pneumonia, the spokesman said.