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Japan Aims To Approve Remdesivir For COVID-19 treatment

The Japanese government has shared his plans to allow authorization of the use of remdesivir, the antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 patients with another possible drug Avigan approval later this month. With this approval, Japan would become the second country which has granted approval to this drug, after the US has authorized using it to treat coronavirus patients.

Government spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga at the regulatory panel of the health ministry said if no other problem shows up, there are chances that this drug would be approved today.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the government was ready to allow the use of an experimental drug that was manufactured by a US pharmaceutical company named, Gilead Sciences.

This U.S approval came after a new clinical trial investigated how remdesivir which was basically designed for Ebola patients has reduced the recovery period in some coronavirus patients. However, there was no such a significant difference as per statistical data shown.

Finding an effective treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, can move the world closer to ease restriction measures and lockdown put in place to control the spread of this highly-contagious virus. The early analysis showed that about two-thirds of severely ill patients improved when treated with this antiviral drug.

Multiple clinical trials of this antiviral drug are still under process. The World Health Organization (WHO) prematurely published findings of a Chinese trial by accident but retracted it soon after. The WHO post indicated that the remdesivir didn’t show benefits in reducing virus load and preventing deaths, but the trial was halted early as researchers struggled to enroll the infected patients.

Also read- Young Man Tests Positive for COVID-19 Three Times Over Two Months

Remdesivir was already a part of available medicines for some patients who were a part of these worldwide clinical trials.  Remdesivir enters inside the genome of the virus, short-circuiting the replication process. Talking about Avigan which is developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, the Japanese firm, Suga shares that the government plans to grant this drug approval as well by the end of this month if its clinical trial brings effective results.

The generic name of this drug is “favipiravir”, which was earlier approved in Japan for its medical use in 2014. However, it was only prescribed in situations where the flu was not being treated with any other medicines. Lastly, this medicine is only manufactured once the Japanese government allows its production and distribution. Otherwise, it is not available in the market.

The plan of Japanese health authorities to approve remdesivir for treating coronavirus infected patients is to accelerate the process. Japan is piggybacking on the U.S. authorization of this antiviral drug. Remdesivir, developed by an American firm will be given to severely patients. It is the first drug that is approved by Japan’s health ministry to treat the novel coronavirus virus.

Last week, remdesivir was approved as an emergency drug and granted authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approval was given under an expedited review process for pharmaceuticals that are sold overseas. Trial outcomes announced by the U.S. National Institutes of Health showed that COVID-19 patients treated with remdesivir recovered in 11 days on average as compared to those given a placebo, recovered in 15 days. The trial found no significant difference in death rates.

Japan’s health ministry plans to approve Avigan this month for treating mild cases of the novel coronavirus, expanding the medical arsenal of the country in hopes of promoting a quicker return to the economy. In a message to local governments, Japan’s Health Ministry said that even if the drug is approved, its supplies may be limited and will be strictly controlled by the government.

Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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