Japan is ready to approve Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19

Japan is ready to approve Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19

The Japanese Health Ministry is set to approve the antiviral drug today.

The Japanese health minister stated Tuesday that he is looking to authorize Remdesivir as a treatment against the novel virus if it is approved beforehand by an advisory panel. Gilead, the company which trials the drug, applied for approval this Monday.

Japan's move comes almost a week after the drug received the green light on Friday, May 1st, in the US. It will be used against severe cases only. The US approval came after clinical trials showed a shorting by a third in patients’ recovery time. The treatment will be administrated by injection. During Monday's trading session, Gilead's stock price dropped by 0.36%.

The move is unexpected, as the Japanese approval process usually takes a year, and it based on domestic clinical trials. The expectations are high, as using Remdesivir was already on the table since late April.

The use of Remdesivir is quite controversial, as it previously underwent clinical trials against Ebola, but it performed much worse than other drugs. Nevertheless, it is put against COVID-19 because it can disable the virus's mechanism of copying itself to submerge the host's immune system.

The latest data released by the New England Journal of Medicine shows a drug effectiveness of 70% of 53 patients with severe symptoms. Although effective, the side effects were severe – deterioration of kidney and liver functions, which occurred in a quarter of patients.

Not only Remdesivir is looking for approval this month, but also Avigan – a locally developed drug by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical. If the 100 patients trial test will be validated, the drug will be approved later this month.

Avigan, commonly known as Favipiravir, was already approved in 2014 but only as a drug against the flu outbreaks. It is typically available only by demand from the Japanese government. When administrated, it blocks the virus’ ability to replicate itself inside a cell. If Remdesivir affects kidneys and liver, Avigan is counter indicated to pregnant women as animal studies showed that it influences fetal development.

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Sources: forexfactory.com, bnnbloomberg.ca, thestreet.com, france24.com

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