Japanese drug Favipiravir effective in treating Covid-19

Medical authorities in China have said a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients, Japanese media said.

China’s National Centre for Biotechnology development claimed that the drug Favipiravir, developed almost 25 years back, showed ‘favourable’ results in treating Covid-19 in a clinical trial of 340 patients.

Favipiravir is a drug molecule that was developed by Japanese drug maker Fujifilm (not to get confused with camera manufacturer) and patented in 1995. Fujifilm decided not to commercialise the drug, the patent of the drug expired in 2015, and made it generic or open for other companies to develop,

A separate study of 80 patients receiving Fujifilm’s favipiravir, or Avigan, found it helped clear the virus from patients a week earlier than the HIV medicine and was associated with improved chest symptoms shown on CT scans.

The favipiravir study, which wasn’t randomized, was conducted in a different group of patients and at a later time point when doctors might have discovered better ways to care for patients, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat said in a note.

Patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after a median of four days after becoming positive, compared with a median of 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug, public broadcaster NHK said

Also,  X-rays confirmed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients who were treated with favipiravir, compared to 62% or those without the drug.