US beginning trials of Japanese anti-viral drug as potential COVID-19 treatment


Anti-influenza Avigan Tablets produced by Japan’s Fujifilm are displayed in Tokyo on October 22, 2014. Fujifilm said late on October 20 it would increase its stock of Avigan, which has been given to several patients who were evacuated from Ebola-hit West Africa to Europe. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WJW) — Fujifilm Corporation will begin its first US clinical trials of Avigan, a Japanese anti-viral drug, for potential treatment of the coronavirus.

Avigan is already being tested in both Japan and China for COVID-19 treatment, Newsweek reports.

The drug was approved for manufacture and sale in Japan in 2014 and reportedly fights influenza by interfering with the virus replication process.

Scientists say the drug selectively inhibits RNA that is necessary for virus replication.

“Due to this mechanism of action, it is expected that Avigan may potentially have an antiviral effect on the new coronavirus, because like influenza viruses, coronaviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses that also depend on viral RNA polymerase,” Fujifilm told the news outlet.

Avigan will be tested on 50 coronavirus patients at three Massachusetts hospitals.

The company also notes that the drug will only “be supplied only at the discretion of Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. It is therefore only manufactured and distributed upon request by the Japanese Government.”

Avigan as never been distributed on the market and is currently not available in Japan’s hospitals or pharmacies.

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