Russia to roll out first approved drug to fight COVID-19

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Russia will begin rolling out its first approved drug in the fight against coronavirus which it describes as “a game changer” starting next week, The Moscow Times reports. Russia has raced to develop a vaccine and other treatments for the coronavirus as the deadly pandemic has battered its economy and infected more than 400,000 of its citizens.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the ChemRar biotechnology firm last month touted “promising” clinical trials of a modified version of favipiravir, the generic version of Japanese firm Fujifilm’s anti-flu drug Avigan.

Russia’s Health Ministry has approved the modified antiviral drug, which is registered in Russia as Avifavir, for treating coronavirus patients, and clinics will be able to administer it in tablet form starting June 11, with enough supplies to treat around 60,000 people per month, head of the RDIF Kirill Dmitriev is quoted in the report as saying.

“We believe this is a game changer. It will reduce strain on the healthcare system, we’ll have fewer people getting into a critical condition, and for 90% of people it eliminates the virus within 10 days,” Dmitriev said.


Avifavir, known generically as favipiravir, was first developed in the late 1990s by a Japanese company later bought by Fujifilm, says Japan Times. The drug works by short-circuiting the reproduction mechanism of certain RNA viruses such as influenza.
“The drug showed very good results in randomised clinical tests. After four days, 65% of patients did not have the virus,” Dmitriev said.

The report says Japan has been conducting trials on the same drug, known there as Avigan. It has won plaudits from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and $128m in government funding, but has yet to be approved for use.


Full Moscow Times report


Full Japan Times report

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