FIGHTING EBOLA: Nigeria seeks Japanese drug Favipiravir

In a desperate bid to tackle the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the Federal Government has applied for a Japanese drug on test “Favipiravir.”Favipiravir drug

Also being applied for is the TKM-Ebola drug and two other vaccines identified by the Treatment Research Group set up by government.

Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu broke the news yesterday at the second Emergency National Council on Health meeting in Abuja.

Favipiravir was developed by a subsidiary of Japanese company Fujifilm Holdings. It could be delivered immediately by the makers, the minister said.

The flu treatment was approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health in March.

Fujifilm spokesman Takao Aoki said the company was in talks with United States (U.S.) authorities about starting clinical testing of favipiravir for Ebola treatment. Aoki said the developers had enough stock to treat up to 20,000 patients.

The minister said: “The Treatment Research Group (TRG) has been working hard to identify experimental drugs, like Zmapp, and also make recommendations to government on further research on these drugs as well as vaccines for EVD treatment and prevention.

“Following the TRG’s recommendation and in consultation with NAFDAC and NHREC, Nigeria has indicated interest to participate in the clinical trials for two candidate EVD vaccines and are considering a third that may be added to the list. We have also applied for experimental drugs, such as TKM-Ebola.”

“The TRG has submitted a detailed profile and brief on the oral antiviral agent which the Japanese Government has offered to make available to affected countries through the WHO.

We are now considering the profile and brief to enable us reach a final decision on making it available to our patients.”

Chukwu said: “Our initial knowledge of the agent is that it has been shown to have strong antiviral activity against the influenza virus, following phases I and II human trails; it is now going through phase III clinical trials. It is shown to have strong antiviral property against Ebola virus in vitro and in vivo. These and the fact that it is considered safe, having passed through phases I and II clinical trials makes it good candidate drug for use in emergency situation as the EVD.”