TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp announced a deal with India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Dubai-based Global Response Aid (GRA) to sell its anti-flu drug Avigan for COVID-19 treatment globally excluding Japan, China and Russia.

The deal comes as global drug makers rush to get factories ready for large-scale production of potential treatment and vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, and move ahead with clinical trials.

Fujifilm is conducting a clinical study on Avigan to treat COVID-19 patients in Japan and the United States and has been seeking to increase the drug’s production by partnering with domestic and overseas companies.

The agreement provides for Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, a unit of the Japanese company, to grant Dr. Reddy’s and GRA the right to develop, make and sell Avigan overseas and get a lump-sum license fee and royalties on sales, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Fujifilm will allow Dr. Reddy’s to use its production patents and clinical data to study virus patients in India, the Middle East, and other regions, Dr. Reddy’s said in a statement.

India and Russia have already approved Avigan as a COVID-19 therapy, but Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted the drug’s potential and hoped to approve it in May, won’t see a decision until at least July amid a lack of patients for clinical trials.

In India, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd received regulatory approval for favipiravir, the generic form of Avigan, as a treatment for mild-to-moderate virus infections in June.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Miyoung Kim)


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