Avigan study fails to demonstrate benefit in COVID-19 treatment

TOKYO. KAZINFORM A Japanese medical university said Friday a clinical study of the antiviral drug Avigan has failed to demonstrate efficacy in treating coronavirus patients at an early stage of the disease.

Fujita Health University came to the conclusion after comparing coronavirus patients who have taken the drug -- developed by a Japanese company -- and those who did not, over a six-day period, Kyodo reports.

However, patients who took the drug showed a tendency to recover sooner than those who did not, according to the university, based in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

Avigan, also known as favipiravir and developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., has been seen as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Fujifilm is also conducting its own clinical tests of Avigan.

«There has been a tendency to bring down fever or eradicate the virus» in those administered with the drug, Yohei Doi, a professor at the university who led the study, told an online press conference.

But he said the enrollment of 89 patients in the clinical study was too small to yield a statistically meaningful difference.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had expressed hope to see the homegrown drug approved by the end of May but gave up the target after Fujita University's interim report, released in mid-May, did not indicate clear efficacy in treating the disease.

As Avigan can inhibit the replication of the virus in cells, experts say it may bring about improvements in patients but it cannot be administered to expectant mothers or women who are likely to become pregnant as it may cause birth defects.

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