Japanese Drug Avigan to Be Tested in Israeli Coronavirus Cases

coronavirus medicine
Tablets of Avigan, generic name favipiravir. (Reuters/Issei Kato/File)

The first shipment of a Japanese drug found helpful in treatment of COVID-19 in China has arrived in Israel, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Avigan, a flu medicine developed by Japan’s Fujifilm Holding Corp., has reportedly been effective in shortening the duration of sickness when taken in the early stages.

The committee on clinical trials on humans at Hadassah Medical Center in Yerushalayim approved use of Avigan on an experimental basis. About 80 patients are expected to receive it at Hadassah, Sourasky, Poriah Hospital in Tiverya and Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. The trials will also require approval from the Health Ministry before they begin.

Prof. Ran Nir-Paz, an infectious disease expert from Hadassah, said, “The medicine is being used in the frontlines of care in Japan. The goal of Israeli research is to examine if the medicine is effective for this indication.”

Procurement of the drug for Israel was the result of protracted efforts by Israeli Ambassador to Japan Yaffa Ben-Ari, together with Prof. Ran Nir-Paz and Dr. Esti Sayag, a deputy director-general of Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

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