Avigan trials in PH still haven’t started — DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2020 01:48 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2020 10:41 PM

A pharmacist from Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila City, on Aug. 8, 2020, shows the anti-flu drug Favipiravir (brand name Avigan) donated by Japan which will be used for trials to treat severe cases of the new coronavirus. Philippine authorities are gearing up to test Avigan for clinical trials as a potential treatment for COVID-19. ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The clinical trials for the anti-flu drug Avigan as possible treatment for COVID-19 have yet to start in the Philippines for various reasons, a health official said Monday or a week since the experiment is supposed to have begun.

“Ang Avigan trial natin, hindi pa sya nag-uumpisa. Supposedly, it was set to start Aug. 17, but there were a lot of processes na hindi pa natatapos,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a virtual briefing.

(Our Avigan trial has not started. It was supposed to start Aug. 17 but there were a lot of processes that are not yet done.)

“Katulad ng finalized budget, hindi pa iyan naa-approve,” she said, explaining that the government and the University of the Philippines - Manila are still discussing the budget for the clinical trials.

(Like the finalized budget has not been approved yet.)

Avigan is initially an anti-flu drug but has shown promising results when used on COVID-19 patients. Japan has already supplied the Philippines with doses for 100 patients participating in the clinical trials.

The Philippine General Hospital, which is under UP, is among the four hospitals participating. The others are Sta. Ana Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

Vergeire said that while PGH has already gotten the approval of its ethics committee for the Avigan trials, the other three hospitals are still processing theirs.

She said the trials will also need approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Vergeire said the various ethics committees and the primary proponent of the trial said that they should be ready to start by September 1.

Meanwhile, the health official said the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial is still ongoing in the Philippines, with the drugs remdesivir and interferon being used.

“We already have 932 participants already in 22 of the 24 active sites,” she said.

There were originally 4 drug combinations included in the trial but the other two were removed after they were deemed ineffective and with side effects.