Monday, 27 May, 2024

Pharma giant to start Favipiravir clinical trials for COVID-19: How does it work?

As the number of coronavirus infection cases multiply in India (the numbers now have crossed 1,12,000 mark), a leading pharmaceutical giant, Stride Pharma made a breakthrough announcement, declaring that one of their drugs, Favipilavir has gotten regulatory approvals and soon, researchers will be kickstarting clinical trials for the drug, which is being touted as an anti-viral medicine against coronavirus.

As of now, over 110 independent groups and research teams across the world are in the race to find a potential vaccine or treatment for the novel coronavirus strain. Out of these, over 10 have got ready approvals and several positive clinical trials are also going on in countries.

Favipiravir, which, in the medical community is known as T-705 or Avigan is a drug which has been in the past used to fight Influenza outbreak in Japan and other viral diseases. The announcement comes after another pharmaceutical company, Glenmark became the first company to get approval in the country for dosing Favipiravir.

Glenmark, which is already testing the use of Favipiravir is conducting stage-3 of its trials and expects to see more results between the months of July and August.

Even though there’s a lot of studies which needs to be done, Favipiravir is being potentially researched as an effective medicine for coronavirus.

How does Favipiravir work?

Favipiravir, which is used to fight a host of viral-borne diseases was earmarked as an anti-flu medicine in the year 2014. In some parts of Japan, the medicine was also studied and experimentally used in treating the Ebola crisis, which was another pandemic we witnessed.

Favipiravir, in recent months, has also been used in China by medical authorities who found out that the drug is “effective” and “safe” in treating coronavirus. Early studies in China found that the COVID positive patients who were administered a dose of this medicine tested negative in a span of four days and 91% of the cases showed promising lung improvement in X-Ray studies. In Japan, where the cases are surging as well, the drug is being used on patients with mild or moderate symptoms so as to stop the multiplication of the fast-spreading viral disease. However, interestingly, the claims of the drug working have not been confirmed by the parent company.

Favipiravir, T-705 is an anti-viral agent which targets the RNA polymerase chain of RNA viruses, such as coronavirus and stops it from replicating inside the body. It is also effective in rooting out certain strains of mutant influenza viruses, apart from other RNA viruses such as bunyaviruses, filoviruses which can have life-threatening implications. Because of these, researchers strongly believe that if given in the right dosage, Favipiravir can be extremely helpful in fighting and treating novel coronavirus.

While it has shown good results in certain cases, where the symptoms are mild or borderline, one of the limitations of the drug seems to be its working on patients exhibiting severe symptoms. A Japanese health official also commented talking about the same:

“We’ve given Avigan to 70 to 80 people, but it doesn’t seem to work that well when the virus has already multiplied,”

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