Japanese Companies Scrambling to Deliver COVID-19 Drugs

Economy Science Technology

Tokyo, May 12 (Jiji Press)--Japanese pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to deliver their own drugs to treat the novel coronavirus amid intensifying international competition in a world gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many companies in and outside Japan are trying to repurpose antiviral drugs developed to treat other diseases. The leading example is remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc. of the United States as a possible treatment for Ebola. On Thursday, Japanese authorities approved it as the first COVID-19 drug in Japan.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co.'s influenza drug Avigan looks certain to follow remdesivir. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the government aims to approve the drug this month for treating coronavirus patients.

A clinical trial to verify the effectiveness and safety of Avigan in coronavirus treatment started in late March. The Fujifilm Holdings Corp. <4901> affiliate will work to establish a system to ensure stable supplies of the drug in Japan with support from the government.

Avigan, however, cannot be administered to pregnant women because of the risk of birth defects as a side effect.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press