FUJIFILM’s Avigan Tablet for COVID-19 to be Free for 20 Countries

While COVID-19 transmission is expanding, the Japanese government has agreed to raise its Avigan® Tablet (favipiravir) stockpile, which is estimated to be an effective treatment against COVID-19 for up to 2 million people. FUJIFILM has already developed its manufacturing base and begun to increase its Avigan® Tablet (favipiravir) manufacturing.

Avigan Tablet targets the same class of single-stranded RNA virus as influenza to treat COVID-19

Avigan (favipiravir) was authorised in 2014 for manufacturing and sale as an influenza antiviral drug in Japan. Avigan has an action mechanism to selectively inhibit RNA polymerase involved in influenza viral replication. Considering these features Avigan is believed to potentially have an antiviral effect on the novel coronavirus because it is listed in the same class of single-stranded RNA virus as influenza, and its clinical designation to treat COVID-19 is currently being tested in a late-stage Phase 3 clinical trial.

Researchers at Wuhan University and other Chinese institutions have said the medication has been effective on patients with coronavirus, particularly for those with mild COVID-19 symptoms.

The President of FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd., Junji Okada, announced on 31 March, the start of a Phase 3 clinical trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of antiviral influenza drug “Avigan Tablet” (generic name: favipiravir) in Japan for COVID-19 patients, the respiratory infection caused by the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Fujifilm expanding output of Avigan

Fujifilm began Avigan’s expanded output in early March, and now plans to increase Avigan’s output further by collaboration with domestic and overseas partners to respond to the Japanese government and other countries’ needs.

On April 16, Kaneka Corporation reached an agreement with FUJIFILM Corporation to supply active pharmaceutical ingredients for the production of the Avigan® Tablet (general name: favipiravir) for the treatment of COVID-19.

Keneka to supply API’s for Avigan by July

In a press release from April 16, Keneka explained that the company feels it is their social mission to start the supply of drug substances for Avigan® Tablet quickly and to rapidly improve their manufacturing system, through investment, personnel allocations and production plan adjustments to begin supplying pharmaceutical substances in July 2020.

Furthermore, Kaneka confirmed that they have already started supplying PCR reagents used for COVID-19 tests via their group company Kaneka Eurogentec, which is headquartered in Belgium. In addition, Kaneka Corporation is enhancing it’s contracted manufacturing efforts for a COVID-19 vaccine using technologies such as high-quality mRNA and plasmid DNA, for which there is a flood of enquiries.

Avigan to be manufactured upon Japan’s government request

The Government of Japan intends to use Avigan® as a countermeasure against influenza viruses. The medication can only be provided at the approval of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Therefore it will only be manufactured and distributed upon request by the Japanese government.

The medication will only be considered for use where there is an epidemic of new or re-emerging influenza virus outbreaks in which other antiviral medications are either ineffective or inadequately effective.

Although the Japanese government has a certain stockpile of the medication, Avigan® has never actually been released on the market and is not available in Japanese or foreign hospitals and pharmacies.

20 Countries to get Avigan Tablet Free for COVID-19

On April 7, Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that the country plans to distribute the Avigan (favipiravir) anti-influenza drug, free of charge, to 20 countries aiming to use it to treat patients with COVID-19. According to Minister Motegi, the list of 20 countries obtaining the medicine include Serbia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, India, Burma, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with a further 30 countries expressing interest. Japan will provide a $1 million grant to the United Nations Project Services Office for the procurement and delivery of Avigan.

More about FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd.

FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. specialises in research, development, production and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals and small molecule pharmaceutical products. In close collaboration with FUJIFILM Corporation, the company strives to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals as well as therapeutic drugs with unique mechanisms of action in the fields of oncology, central nervous system disorders and infectious diseases where major unmet medical needs still remain.

For more information, please contact FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co