After Monthslong Delay, Philippines Finally Begins Avigan Trial

MANILA/TOKYO – Clinical trials in the Philippines for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan (favipiravir) as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus have finally started, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday.

“For Avigan trial, nag-umpisa po tayo noong November 20, and we already have eight participants,” Vergeire told a virtual media forum.

The health official said three patients are enrolled at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), three at Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (formerly Tala Leprosarium), and two at Quirino Memorial Medical Center (formerly Labor Hospital).

“Sa Sta. Ana Hospital they are still yet to recruit a participant,” she added.

Vergeire said the proponent of the research has established a less stringent criteria to include more patients.

“So yun na lang pong mga non-severe COVID-19 patients with or without pneumonia and those not on high flow oxygen support ay maaari nating isama rito sa trial na ito,” stated Vergeire.

She also mentioned that the sample size of the study has increased from 96 to 144.

“Hopefully po, in the coming days and in the coming weeks, ma-reach na po natin itong sinasabi nating number of samples that we need to complete this trial,” she went on.

The Avigan trials in the country were originally scheduled to start last Aug. 17 after the Department of Health (DOH) received supply from the Japanese government on Aug. 6 to test if the antiviral drug is effective and safe in treating 100 COVID-19 patients.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., has applied for the approval of Avigan in Japan as a treatment for the new coronavirus. - Florenda Corpuz

(Photograph courtesy of ©FUJIFILM Corporation)