After the Afghan drug has proven to be effective against influenza epidemics and has been used to fight Ebola, the drug is currently undergoing clinical tests to investigate its potential for treatment of people with the emerging coronavirus..
Here are some questions and answers about this antiviral drug.
What is an Afghan drug?
Avigan is the trade name of the medication for faviravira, developed by a company called “Fujifilm Toyama Chemical”. It originated from the fusion of two branches of the Fujifilm office supply group, and was approved in 2014 in Japan..
However, it is only allowed to be used in Japan in cases of influenza epidemics that cannot be treated with current medications. It is not available for sale and cannot be produced and distributed unless at the request of the Japanese government.
Faviravier paralyzes the ability of a virus to reproduce within a cell, but raises concerns about its side effects, as animal studies have shown it affects the development of the fetus. Hence, it is not prescribed to pregnant women, and medical experts say they do not recommend using it to treat children and boys.
How is it used against the emerging corona virus?
Some doctors have started experiments on faviravira, and they have started using it to treat people with the emerging coronavirus in the early stages of the disease, and they say its antiviral effect is having an effect..
Initial results show that this drug may contribute to reducing the patient’s recovery period, and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology reports “very good clinical results”.
About five clinical tests are currently taking place in the world, in the United States, Italy and Japan, where “Fujifilm” announced that it is working to verify the effectiveness of the drug on 100 patients until the end of June.
The Japanese study requires treating patients between the ages of 20 and 74 who suffer from minor pneumonia with this drug for a period of up to 14 days.
Genetics expert from the Australian National University of Health and Medicine Gaitan Borgio said that these experiments will consider a series of factors including clinical outcomes (the effect on fever, cough, blood oxygen level, recovery time and hospital stay), as well as the speed at which the body gets rid of the virus, through radiography. A tomography scan of patients to monitor the development of pneumonia.
“If we notice a significant decline in clinical indicators and a lower concentration of the virus in groups of people being treated with faviravir, this will be an encouraging indication for a wider clinical trial,” he told AFP.
What new do these experiences offer?
If some doctors have tested a faviravir drug to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus, the tests will be conducted according to strict protocols designed to ensure that the drug is safe and effective for a wide range of patients..
Stephen Griffin, an epidemiologist at the University of Leeds in the UK, explained: “Limited-scale studies have been published, but it is difficult to draw conclusions from them because the number of patients is small, and these experiments often do not include a comparison with a method of treating symptoms or with a placebo. Often compared to another drug. “
He added that “large-scale trials should be distributed according to different levels of disease severity, and include comparisons with the use of a placebo.”
What is the difference with other drugs? There are many drugs that are being tested in search of a cure for people with the emerging coronavirus, among them REMDISIVER, which is also an antiviral drug..
Griffin explained that a study on the two drugs showed that faviravir is effective against the emerging coronavirus only with relatively high concentrations, and concluded that the remiferifer is a better option, especially in light of the way the coronavirus reproduces compared to other viruses.
However, there is no license to the medicine remediffer anywhere in the world and should be given to patients by intravenous injection, while favipiravir is approved in several countries and may be taken orally..
When do we know if it is useful?
Fujifilm testing is expected to continue until the end of June, while data from experiments in Italy and other countries will be received in the meantime. Additional information will also be available from the use of the medicine by doctors outside of the tests when other treatments available are not helpful.
“There are currently more than 300 clinical trials underway around Covid-19,” Borgo added.
He continued: “Great hopes for miraculous medicine! But let’s wait. The best treatment nowadays against Covid-19 is isolation, hand-washing and housekeeping. “