Breakthrough as Japan offers Ebola drug to FG

The Japanese Government has said it is ready to deploy significant doses from a stockpile of over 20,000 doses of its Favipiravir drug which is developed by Fujifilm in order to help Nigeria and other African countries curb the Ebola menace.

The drug which was approved by the Japanese health ministry in March is effective for the treatment of influenza type viruses of which Ebola shares a similar genetic make up.

According to AP

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan can offer favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., at any time at the request of the World Health Organization.

The drug, with the brand name Avigan, was developed by Fujifilm subsidiary Toyama Chemical Co. to treat new and re-emerging influenza viruses, and has not been proven to be effective against Ebola.

Favipiravir was approved by Japan’s health ministry in March for use against influenza. Fujifilm is in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, through a U.S. partner, Medivector, to prepare for clinical testing of the drug in treating Ebola, company spokesman Takao Aoki said.

He said Ebola and influenza viruses are the same general type, and a similar response can theoretically be expected from Ebola.

Favipiravir inhibits viral gene replication within infected cells to prevent propagation, while other anti-viral drugs often are designed to inhibit the release of new viral particles to prevent the spread of infection, the company said.

The company has enough stock of favipiravir for more than 20,000 patients, Aoki said.

Suga, the Cabinet spokesman, said Japan is watching for a decision by WHO that would provide more details on the use of untested drugs against Ebola. In case of an emergency, Japan may respond to individual requests before any further decision by WHO, he said.

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