Avigan to be tried in mild Covid 19 cases in UK


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UK coronavirus patients set to trial ‘promising’ Japanese-made drug

Source: The Evening Standard

By Elena Cruse

Some 450 UK coronavirus patients will be recruited to take part in a new trial of a “promising” Covid-19 drug.

Researchers are launching a study into a Japanese-manufactured medicine that could aid with treatment.

The trial will see participants split into three groups.

A third will receive favipiravir (Avigan) – an anti-viral drug produced by Fujifilm Toyama Chemicals in Japan, another set will be given a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin, while a third group will be given existing standard care for coronavirus.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital in London are participating in the trial, which also involves Imperial College and the Royal Brompton Hospital.

University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium aims to start a trial on up to 200 patients at a later date.

Chief investigator of the study, Professor Pallav Shah, said the pioneering trial represents a “unique opportunity” to compare different treatments.

He said the study will target early cases of Covid-19 in the hope of finding a treatment which prevents patients progressing into intensive care, reduces the length of their hospital stay and limits their infectiousness.

“Hypothetically it looks very useful, very promising; when you look at the drug’s effectiveness in vitro, it looks very good,” the professor, who works on respiratory medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said.

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Categories: Health

2 replies

  1. Favipiravir: A Potential Antiviral for COVID-19?
    Neil M. Ampel, MD reviewing Dong L et al. Drug Discov Ther 2020

    Evidence supports clinical trials to determine whether this broad antiviral drug is effective in treating COVID-19.

    Researchers review the evidence for testing various drugs in treating COVID-19. Among the drugs reviewed is favipiravir, also known as T-705 or Avigan, a pyrazine derivative that acts as an inhibitor of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, causing chain termination and preventing RNA elongation. Favipiravir has demonstrated activity against influenza viruses, including those that are oseltamivir-resistant, and has been approved in Japan and China for the treatment of novel influenza virus infections. However, it is a mutagen and has potential for both teratogenicity and embryotoxicity in humans. It is orally available and is dosed twice daily in treating influenza. It has also been used for postexposure prophylaxis and treatment for Ebolavirus infection. It has no activity against DNA viruses.

    With regard to COVID-19, lay media have reported on a non-placebo, open-label trial in Shenzhen, China, of oral favipiravir (1600 mg twice daily for 1 day, then 600 mg twice daily) plus inhaled interferon compared with a historical cohort of patients receiving lopinavir/ritonavir for 14 days (Med News Today; 2020 Mar 27). Those receiving favipiravir and interferon had median shedding of virus of 4 days, compared with 11 days in the lopinavir/ritonavir group. Radiographic improvement was seen in 91% of favipiravir-interferon treated subjects compared with 62% of those on lopinavir/ritonavir. The results of this study have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal to date. A prospective, multicenter, open-label, randomized trial in China comparing favipiravir with umifenovir (Arbidol), a membrane-fusion inhibitor active against influenza viruses, was recently reported (MedRxiv 2020 Mar 27; [e-pub]). It demonstrated a higher clinical recovery rate at day 7 in those on favipiravir among moderately ill patients but not among mildly or severely ill patients.


  2. Since the world might wait years for a coronavirus vaccine, drugs that can mitigate its effects are now in the spotlight. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir as an emergency treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. While remdesivir is intended for the most severe cases, reducing recovery time, U.S. doctors are also testing an influenza drug made by a Japanese photography company amid hopes that it may help a wider range of patients.

    U.S. trial under way
    Favipiravir works by preventing the virus from replicating in cells. It’s marketed under the brand Avigan and was developed in 2014 by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, a unit of Fujifilm Holdings. As he extended the nationwide state of emergency until May 31, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he wants favipiravir approved for Covid-19 in May, as Japan moves to fast-track approval for remdesivir as well.

    In April the government said it will triple the country’s stockpile to enough doses for 2 million people. Fujifilm Toyama Chemical is working to increase its monthly production by July to 100,000 treatment courses, defined as doses for a 14-day period, and 300,000 courses by September. The price of the drug has not been set in Japan, where the government decides medicine prices.

    Japan is expected to ship the drug to 43 countries for clinical studies on its effectiveness against Covid-19. The shipment is being sent through the United Nations Office for Project Services, and each country will receive enough to treat between 20 and 100 people, Japan Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said last week.

    Fujifilm began a phase 2 clinical trial in Massachusetts in April. The trial called for about 50 patients and is taking place in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


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