COVID-19: India Approves Clinical Trials of Japanese Flu Drug Favipiravir

New Delhi (Sputnik): Since the world might have to wait for a coronavirus vaccine to be developed, countries are pinning hopes on already existing drugs that could mitigate the effects of the virus.

The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) has given a nod to clinical trials of the drug favipiravir, which is used in influenza, against COVID-19.

While approving the drug for trial, Director-General Shekhar Mande stated that it could potentially be useful against the coronavirus.

Favipiravir, sold under the name Avigan, was first developed six years ago by a Japanese pharmaceutical company called Fujifilm Toyama Chemical to treat influenza.

An ampule of Ebola drug Remdesivir is pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. - Sputnik International
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On 30 April, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, a company based in Mumbai, received approval from the drug regulator DGCI to conduct clinical trials of favipiravir antiviral tablets on mild to moderately ill COVID-19 patients.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated in a meeting, held for Corona Vaccine Development, that 30 vaccines are in different stages of study in the country for the development of a coronavirus vaccine, with a few going on to trial stages.

Medical authorities in China stated that the Japanese flu drug favipiravir appeared to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients. The US is also seeking approval of the drug for emergency use against the novel coronavirus. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also striving to fast-track the approval of favipiravir and remdesivir, both responsive in treating coronavirus patients. The Japanese government is also accelerating the production of favipiravir to increase the country’s stockpile and to ship the drug to 43 countries for clinical trials.

Coronavirus cases in India have spiked to 56,000, with 1,800 deaths despite strict lockdown measures. The country has successfully cured 16,540 patients, as per data from the Ministry of Health. 


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