FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) has announced that it provided, on July 13, a shipment of the anti-influenza drug Avigan® Tablet 200mg (Favipiravir, hereinafter “Avigan Tablet”) to Taiwan's government organization in charge of infectious disease control, called the Centers for Disease Control, R.O.C. (Taiwan) (hereinafter “Taiwanese CDC”), following its decision to stockpile Avigan Tablet. The Taiwanese CDC made the decision to protect Taiwanese citizens from the risk of new strains of influenza including avian and swine influenzas due to a growing possibility of its human transmission in Taiwan. Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the manufacturing and marketing of Avigan Tablet at this stage, but the Taiwanese CDC has decided the import of the experimental drug exceptionally in recognition of its new mechanism of action and other benefits.
Avigan Tablet, created by the Fujifilm Group company Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd., is an anti-influenza drug approved for manufacturing and marketing in Japan in March 2014. Its Phase III clinical trial in Japan included an international joint trial that involved samples in Taiwan.
Influenza viruses replicate their genes within infected cells to propagate and release new viral particles and to spread the infection to other cells. Existing anti-influenza drugs are Neuraminidase inhibitors, designed to block the release of propagated viral particles so as to prevent the spread of infection. In contrast, Avigan Tablet is a viral RNA polymerase inhibitor with a different mechanism of action, blocking viruses' gene replication in cells to prevent their propagation. Due to this mechanism, Avigan Tablet is expected to have anti-viral effects on a variety of avian influenza viruses. Its efficacy has already been confirmed in animal testing.
In most cases, avian or swine influenza viruses do not infect humans. However, when it has infected humans, there is a concern that they could combine with regular seasonal influenza viruses (e.g. H1N1) and mutate into a new strain capable of human infection, triggering a pandemic. In the given circumstance, Fujifilm has supplied Avigan Tablet in response to the Taiwanese CDC's decision to stockpile the drug. This is the first time Avigan Tablet is supplied for stockpiling purposes. The supplied Avigan Tablet is to be used on people who become infected with a new strain of influenza including avian and swine influenzas. In the case of administration, the data will be provided to Fujifilm. The drug will be supplied to patients via Taiwan's major pharmaceutical company, Standard Chem. & Pharma. Co., Ltd. (CEO: Roy Fan), which is commissioned by the Taiwanese CDC to import Avigan Tablet. In partnership with Standard Chem. & Pharma., Fujifilm will work toward the drug's manufacturing and marketing approval in Taiwan at an early stage.
Fujifilm will continue to combine the technologies and know-how accumulated in the photographic film business including chemical synthesis capacity, design ability, analysis technology and nanotechnology, with the technological expertise of its medical and pharmaceutical affiliates such as Toyama Chemical so as to develop and supply innovative pharmaceutical products, resolving our society issues.
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