March 17, 2020 – China’s health leadership announced they have found the Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug Avigan to be effective in treating COVID-19 disease patients.
Zhang Xinmin, China’s director of the National Center for Biotechnology Development said Avigan (Favipiravir) was found to be effective in 2 clinical trials completed in Wuhan and Shenzhen and involved 240 patients and 80 patients respectively.
During a conference in Beijing on March 17, 2020, Zhang said the medicine worked for coronavirus-related symptoms including pneumonia and had no obvious side effects.
Zhang said those who were given Avigan reported positive results after 4 days of therapy. This contrasts with a median of 11 days for those without the medication.
Zhang said more than 80 COVID-19 patients have participated in the clinical trial in The Third People’s Hospital of Shenzhen, including 35 patients taking Favipiravir and 45 patients on a control group.
One of these clinical trials also found that X-rays confirmed improvements in lung conditions in about 91 percent of the patients who were given the medicine.
The director said he formally recommended the use of this medicine as a way to treat the COVID-19 disease, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
According to Zhang, a Chinese pharmaceutical company has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration to mass-produce the medication and ensure a stable supply.
The Avigan tablet was developed by the Fujifilm Group company, Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd., and is not distributed in the Japanese marketplace.