Philippines to stockpile Avigan for COVID-19 treatment

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 30 2020 04:55 PM

Driver, delivery and merchant-partners of ride-hailing and food-delivery service firm Grab undergo COVID-19 testing at the Quezon Memorial Circle on July 30, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine government said Thursday it would stockpile Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan to treat severe cases of the new coronavirus, as planned clinical trials for the drug draw closer.

Carlito Galvez Jr., presidential adviser and head of the national task force handling the pandemic, said the government was looking for ways to treat severe cases to prevent more deaths.

"This is why we are buying high-flow nasal cannula, and we will also stockpile remdesivir and Avigan, as well as blood plasma (from COVID-19 survivors) so that our severe cases will not become fatalities," Galvez said during a press conference in Metro Manila.

Favipiravir, an oral antiviral drug sold under the brand name Avigan, is manufactured by a subsidiary of Japanese firm, Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

A government review on the usage of Avigan in the Philippines has already concluded, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, suggesting clinical trials could start soon.

"We have had around 199,000 Avigan tablets donated to the National Security Council. We are just finalizing arrangements so we can start the trials," Vergeire told Kyodo News.

Earlier in May, the Philippine government said it had allocated 18 million pesos ($366,000) for the Avigan clinical trials, with at least 3 sites administering tests on 80 to 100 people.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines had recorded a total of 85,486 coronavirus cases and 1,962 deaths.