Philippines and Japan at initial stages of coordination for Avigan drug trials to treat COVID-19

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The Philippines and Japan have already started the initial stages of coordination for possible testing of the Japanese flu drug Avigan for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

“May kasunduan with government of Japan kung saan meron po tayong pagkakasunduan kung magiging clear po ang ating arrangements sa isang gamot naman, which is Avigan,” Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday.

“Pero nasa initial stages of coordination pa lamang po tayo,” Vergeire said.

During a special virtual summit of the Association of Southeast Nations and its dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea on COVID-19 on April 15, President Rodrigo Duterte and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the possible use of Avigan against COVID-19.

Duterte later on said the Philippines is ready to participate in clinical trials and medical studies of potential vaccines and medicines such as Avigan.

Chinese authorities have indicated that in March that it could be effective for treating COVID-19 patients.

China’s ministry of science and technology said a trial involving 80 cases conducted by a hospital in Shenzhen and a study of 120 cases led by Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital both showed the drug shortened the recovery time for patients.

Avigan, the brand name of the drug favipiravir, has been approved for use in flu outbreaks and was also used to treat Ebola, according to a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

In Japan, it is used for flu outbreaks that are not effectively addressed by other medications. It is not available on the market and can only be manufactured and distributed at the request of the Japanese government, the AFP said.

The global death toll due to COVID-19 has already reached 193,930. The United States has the most deaths of any country with 50,360./Stacy Ang

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