Philippines to Begin Clinical Trials for Japan’s Virus Drug

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Tablets of Avigan (generic name : Favipiravir), a drug approved as an anti-influenza drug in Japan and developed by drug maker Toyama Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Co. REUTERS/Issei Kato
FILE PHOTO: Tablets of Avigan (generic name : Favipiravir), a drug approved as an anti-influenza drug in Japan and developed by drug maker Toyama Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Co. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Claire Jiao

The Philippines will begin clinical trials for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan as treatment for Covid-19 in Southeast Asia’s worst outbreak.

Trials that will start on August 17 will cover 100 patients aged 18 to 74 years across four hospitals in metropolitan Manila, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing on Wednesday. The drug, developed by Fujifilm Holdings Corp. and provided by the Japanese government, will be tested over nine months.

“There were regulatory procedures undertaken so the clinical trials could be started here in the Philippines,” Vergeire said.

The Philippines reported 4,444 new infections on Wednesday for a total of 143,749 cases, a 46% increase since the start of August. It’s well past the 130,718 cases of Indonesia, which it overtook just a week ago.

President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted Russia’s offer of its coronavirus vaccine, which is set for civilian use even as clinical trials continue. The Philippines is also in talks with the U.S., U.K., and China for vaccine supplies, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Monday.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.