Wed, 21 Oct 2020

TOKYO, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said on Wednesday that it has confirmed the efficacy of anti-flu drug Avigan in treating COVID-19 patients and will seek government approval as early as next month for using the drug.

Avigan, also known as favipiravir, was developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings.

According to data analysis of a clinical trial involving 156 patients aged from 20 to 74 with mild symptoms, Fujifilm found that the group given the drug required 11.9 days before their symptoms improved, while the group given a placebo required 14.7 days.

If approved, the drug would be the third treatment drug for COVID-19 in the country, after antiviral drug remdesivir and steroid drug dexamethasone.

The clinical tests of Avigan first started in March to see if it is effective in treating patients with COVID-19 and the company had hoped to finish them by June. But the period was extended as the number of confirmed cases in the country was on a downtrend at one point, making it difficult to meet the enrollment target.

Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had expressed his hopes that the drug could receive approval in May. However, an interim report released in mid-May by a Japanese university did not indicate clear efficacy.

As of 8:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 216 to reach 80,116, while the death toll from the pneumonia-causing virus stood at 1,538, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities.

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