UPDATE : Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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‘Favipiravir not approved as new coronavirus drug yet’
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2020.02.21 12:08
  • Updated 2020.02.24 14:53
  • comments 0

Some local news reports said -- mistakenly -- favipiravir, an experimental antiviral treatment, won China’s regulatory nod as the drug for the new coronavirus.

In reality, Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company’s treatment was authorized as an influenza therapy. The drug has just been granted for a clinical study whether it could work on COVID-19.

The China Daily’s news report on favipiravir’s winning of approval as the treatment of influenza

According to a report by the China Daily, which Korean news media misquoted, favipiravir won the marketing license as the treatment of influenza. The report said the agent was one of three treatments that showed efficacy against the novel coronavirus in human trials.

“The approval document by the National Medical Products Administration said the drug manufacturer, Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company, has met requirements to produce the generic form of favipiravir but needs to continue unfinished research in pharmacy and clinical pharmacology,” the China Daily said. The company received approval from the health authorities to test favipiravir in the treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia, it added.

Favipiravir is an RdRP (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) inhibitor developed by Japan’s Toyama Chemical. The agent selectively inhibits RdRP of RNA viruses to prevent virus replication.

Favipiravir is reportedly a promising treatment effective on a wide range of RNA viruses, including Corona, Arena, Bunya, and Filo. However, due to its risks for teratogenicity and embryotoxicity that cause congenital disabilities, the Japanese health authorities granted conditional approval for the drug, allowing it only for serious infectious diseases such as avian influenza or Ebola virus.

Kim Woo-ju, a professor at the Infectious Disease Department of Korea University Guro Hospital, said physicians would have to thoroughly check for evidence to use favipiravir when treating patients infected with the new coronavirus.


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