Back on June 1, TrialSite reported that Russian regulators approved a version of favipiravir known as Avifavir for hospitalized patients. Now the Russian Healthcare Ministry has approved the use of two favipiravir-based preparations for outpatient treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 indication.
Originally developed in Japan as a flu medication and approved in that country in 2014, now Favipiravir-based treatments are approved not only in Russia but also India, Bangladesh, China and other nations. The drug was developed by Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp and its subsidiary Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co. Ltd. and in Russia a local pharmaceutical company called ChemRar Group in partnership with RDIF have developed the Russian version known as Avifavir. TrialSite reported that RDIF owns a 50% stake of ChemRar. RDIF, the Russian sovereign wealth fund, has been quite active in not only COVID-19 drug development activities but also behind the scenes working to promote the Russian life science sector.
Recently, Russia’s Tass shared with the world the update to Favipiravir status in that country. Russia has achieved technically two firsts since the onset of pandemic. In May, the regulators there approved the Favipiravir version called Avifavir making it the world’s first approved therapy targeting COVID-19, according to Tass. Of course, months later Russia also was the first to actually certify a vaccine, albeit in an unorthodox manner.
Favipiravir in U.S.
That Favipiravir represents a sort of enigma to TrialSite as over $200 million of U.S. government dollars poured into clinical trials five years ago for antiviral research. While major nations approve the drug for COVID-19, the press is fairly silent at home. Why didn’t the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at least revisit this drug for COVID-19? If they did, why didn’t they share the rationale for passing with the American public? After all that, the public already helped fund clinical trials with public dollars. Strange.