Japan’s review of Avigan as COVID-19 treatment draws blank

Japan’s review of Avigan as COVID-19 treatment draws blank

Japanese health authorities have been unable to reach a conclusion on the effectiveness of antiviral drug Avigan in treating COVID-19 patients based on the results of clinical testing by its developer, government sources said Wednesday.

The latest assessment by the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency will serve as key material for a health ministry review panel that will likely decide on Monday whether to approve the use of Avigan to treat COVID-19 in Japan.

Drugmaker Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., a unit of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., filed an application for use of the drug to fight COVID-19 in October. Avigan has already received approval for use with cases of influenza.

Some medical experts have opposed the use of Avigan, also known as favipiravir, for treating patients with COVID-19.

Possible side effects include the worsening of liver function, but Fujifilm said no new safety concerns were identified. Pregnant women cannot use the drug as some animal studies have pointed to the possibility of fetal abnormalities.