Fast-tracking of Avigan is on the books in Japan
Kanako Mita and Sawako Uchida
Modern Tokyo Times
The fast-tracking of Avigan (favipiravir) in Japan for Coronavirus (Covid-19) appears to be on the books. This relates to the Japanese government seeking to approve Avigan for treatment in November.
Avigan is used for influenza but the speed of approval is raising questions. After all, with the death toll being roughly 1,600 in Japan, this low figure means no emergency for fast-tracking is required. Hence, the fear is that the commercial angle – or panicking – or a mixture of both – are being weighed up too much.
At the moment, approval is being mentioned before even filing for a regulatory review. Likewise, the clinical data is limited in terms of numbers. Therefore, concerns are being raised despite the promise of Avigan.
In trials involving 156 patients, the speed of recovery was improved. Thus without Avigan, the average days of recovery were 14.7 days compared with 11.9 days for patients who took Avigan.
Some issues have been raised about certain side effects. For example, birth defects. However, in general, despite the limited nature of clinical data, Avigan looks promising.
Yet, with the government speeding up the planned usage of Avigan, concerns are obvious. Especially with Japan promising other nations to supply Avigan. Therefore, the commercial angle – even if it doesn’t exist according to the government internally or externally – will be viewed as a factor by others.
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