Philippine Clinical Trial for Japan’s Avigan Faces Delay

MANILA/TOKYO – The Philippine Health Department on Monday confirmed that the country’s clinical trial for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus has been postponed.

“Ang Avigan Trial natin hindi pa siya nag-uumpisa. Supposedly, it was set to start last Aug. 17, but there had been a lot of processes na hindi pa natatapos,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a virtual media forum.

Vergeire said the final budget for the Avigan trial has not yet been approved, and that only one out of the four participating hospitals was given the green light by the ethics committee.

“Medyo meron lang konting discussions between UP Manila at ang ating government para kung saan, magkano yung talagang budget for this trial,” said Vergeire.

“Meron kasing ina-undergo na mga ethics approval ang ating mga ospital na kasali rito. We know that there are four hospitals na kasali, ito yung PGH, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Sta. Ana Hospital and Quirino Memorial Medical Center. So ang PGH, naaprubahan na ng ethics committee nila ang kanilang pagsali rito sa Avigan trial. Pero yung tatlong ospital, inaayos pa rin hanggang sa ngayon yung kanilang ethics committee approval,” she added.

“We all know para ikaw ay makapag-start ng clinical trial kailangan mo ng approval ng FDA at saka kailangan mo ng approval ng ethics committee because we are going to implement this trial sa mga tao so kailangan ng ethics approval. So hihintayin lang natin yun, and ang commitment naman sa atin ng iba’t ibang ethics committee pati nung ating primary proponent na by Sept. 1 hopefully tapos na lahat, and we can already start the trial,” she went on.

The Philippines received Avigan from the Japanese government last Aug. 6 to test if it is effective and safe in treating 100 COVID-19 patients.

The Department of Health (DOH) allocated P18 million for the Avigan trial, which will run for nine months.

Avigan, also known as favipiravir, was developed by Fujifilm Toyama Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp. It is approved for use in Japan to treat novel influenza. - Florenda Corpuz

(Photograph courtesy of ©FUJIFILM Corporation)