PH gov’t asking Japan for allocation of ‘promising' anti-flu drug vs COVID-19

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 02:59 PM

A technician works in a laboratory for manufacturing testing kits for the new coronavirus at a medical laboratory company Da An Gene Co, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China Jan. 28, 2020. Reuters

MANILA — The Philippine government has requested an anti-flu drug that is believed to be effective against COVID-19 from Japan, a health official said Monday. 

“The government is trying to ask the government of Japan to allocate Avigan for the Philippines, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told ABS-CBN News.

Avigan is the brand name for anti-flu drug favipiravir. The Chinese government has recently decided to officially use the Japanese-developed drug to treat patients with COVID-19.

“Clinical studies in Japan show encouraging results,” said Domingo, who is also director general of the Food and Drug Administration, said.

The Japanese government is already looking to officially approve Avigan as a treatment for COVID-19 once clinical trials conclude.

However, it is not locally available in the Philippines.

“There is no word yet from the manufacturer of Avigan so we do not yet know when it will be available here,” Domingo said.

Avigan is among the drugs being tested worldwide as a treatment for COVID-19. Another drug that has shown promise is chloroquine, which was made to treat malaria.

The Philippines is now studying the possibility of participating in the World Health Organization’s “Solidarity Trial,” which is a multi-country clinical trial program for COVID-19 treatment.

As of Monday, there has been more than 700,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. More than 1,400 are in the Philippines.