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DOH exec: Japanese anti-flu drug ‘very promising’ treatment for COVID-19 patients

The Philippine government is looking into bringing a Japanese anti-flu medication  into the country as it appears to be "very promising" for treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, an official of the Department of Health said Monday.

"Very promising po siya, mukha po talaga siyang sa ngayon sa mga anti-viral ay ito po ang parang medyo directed po ang treatment towards talagang [sa] COVID-19," Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in an interview over Dobol B sa News TV.

"Of course... this is a very early development drug, at nakita po na meron siyang positive response sa mga pasyente sa kanya," he added.

Also the director general of the Food and Drug Administration, Domingo said the drug, Avigan, is not yet being produced in commercial quantity and has no distributor in the Philippines yet.

"Kasi nga dinedevelop pa, wala pa po siyang production in commercial quantity pero tinitingnan din po natin kung pano siya maipapasok sa Pilipinas," he said.

China's ministry of science and technology has reportedly said some clinical trials on favipiravir, an active ingredient of Avigan, have been completed. The trials using the drug as a treatment for COVID-19 reportedly showed "very good clinical results."

Avigan, which is being developed by a subsidiary of camera maker Fujifilm, has licensed the patent for favipiravir to Chinese company Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical, according to an earlier report.

As of Sunday, health authorities have recorded 1,418 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. Of this number, 71 patients have died and 42 have recovered.

The global total was more than 600,000 cases and almost 30,000 deaths as of Sunday, according to the World Health Organization. — RSJ, GMA News