China’s Science and Technology Ministry official Zhang Xinmin has said that Japan-based Fujifilm’s anti-flu drug Favipiravir helped Covid-19 patients recover.
Developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, and also referred to as Avigan, Favipiravir gained approval in Japan in 2014.
In 2016, Japan provided Favipiravir as emergency aid for the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, noted Reuters.
The drug received Chinese approval for manufacturing by Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical to treat adults with new or recurring influenza, according to a filing by the company last month.
Last month, Chinese media reported that the drug received approval as an investigational therapy for Covid-19 coronavirus infection.
In Shenzhen city in China, a clinical trial involving 80 participants demonstrated better chest improvement in those treated with Favipiravir, noted Zhang.
Also, patients treated with the drug tested negative for the genomic trace of the virus in lesser time, compared to those not administered with the drug.
The drug was able to shorten the recovery time from 11 days to four days for mild and regular cases.
Another trial in Wuhan showed that the drug shortened fever duration from an average of 4.2 days to 2.5 days.
Zhang said that Favipiravir has been effective, without any obvious side-effects, in helping coronavirus patients recover.
Fujifilm had no comment on the Chinese government’s announcement. The company produces Avigan only when the Japanese government provides orders and has no sales target, said a Fujifilm spokeswoman.
The company’s shares increased by 15% on Wednesday morning after the announcement.