Japan ready to offer experimental Ebola drug abroad

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Japan experimental ebola drug
(Photo: The Telegraph/REUTERS)

Japanese government ‘ready to respond to urgent cases’ with experimental drug Avigan, as British Ebola patient arrives back in UK from Sierra Leone…report by The Telegraph

Tokyo stands ready to offer an experimental drug developed by a Japanese company to help stem the global tide of the deadly Ebola virus, the top government spokesman said on Monday.

Japan’s Fujifilm Corporation has offered to provide supplies of Avigan, which also goes by the name Favipiravir, although the company points out that it is only approved as a treatment for influenza.

“We understand that several foreign researchers have published thesis saying that the drug reduced the Ebola virus in animal tests, using mice,” Nana Itagaki, a spokeswoman for Fujifilm, told The Telegraph.

“We now have sufficient supplies of Favipiravir for more than 20,000 people and we have a system for continuous production … We will prepare for the quick supply of Favipiravir when the WHO requests us to do so.”

The Japanese government backed the move. “Our country is prepared to provide the yet-to-be approved drug in cooperation with the manufacturer if the WHO requests,” said chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been discussing the use of unapproved drugs as a way of getting a handle on an outbreak in Africa that has already cost more than 1,400 lives, with thousands more people infected.

There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, and the WHO has declared the latest outbreak a global public health emergency.

Several drugs are under development.

The use of an experimental drug called ZMapp on two Americans and a Spanish priest infected with the virus while working in Africa has opened up an intense ethical debate.

The drug, which is in very short supply, has reportedly shown promising results in the two Americans, although the priest died.

US company Mapp Bioparmaceutical which makes the drug said this month it had sent all its available supplies to west Africa.

The WHO earlier said a panel of medical experts had determined it is “ethical” to provide experimental treatments.

Mr Suga said on Monday: “Even before the WHO reaches a conclusion, we are ready to respond to individual requests [from medical workers] under certain conditions if it is an urgent case.”

Avigan is currently in clinical tests in the United States.

Its developer Fujifilm Holdings said it had received inquiries from abroad but declined to say how many and from which countries.

The company, which has diversified into health care fields, has “no problem” over the amount of stockpiles, according to spokesman Takao Aoki.

Original Post by The Telegraph

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