The Department of Health (DOH) bared that the Philippines has started initial talks with Japan on the use of the drug Avigan to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Meron din po tayong trial na sisimulan na nagkaroon po tayo ng kasunduan dito po sa ating government of Japan kung saan meron po tayong pagkakasunduan, kung magiging clear po ang ating arrangement, ito pong isang gamot naman which is Avigan. (We will start a trial based on an agreement, when everything has been cleared, with the Japanese government wherein we will use the drug Avigan,)” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked about Avigan, with Duterte expressing the country’s willingness to join clinical trials and medical explorations on potential medicines including Avigan to combat COVID-19. 

The two leaders had this discussion during a special online summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and with China, Japan and South Korea on COVID-19 last April 15.

Earlier, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology said clinical trials on 80 cases and a study of 120 hospital cases both showed how the drug shortened the recovery time for COVID-19 patients.

In Japan, Avigan, with the generic name favipiravir, was used to cure Ebola and is used for flu outbreaks when other medicines cannot effectively work.

Avigan is considered as a possible cure for COVID-19 and is now being studied in 50 countries. 

The healthcare arm of Fujifilm Holding Corporation manufactures the drug but it cannot be acquired from the market as it is only manufactured and distributed at the request of the Japanese government. (Jojo Mangahis)