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Doctors in Russia to prescribe avifavir for Covid-19 treatment

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 02, 2020 Published on June 02, 2020

File pic istock.com Bill Oxford

Modified drug claimed to have cured 330 patients in trials

Russia will roll out its first approved drug for Covid-19 next week, its state financial backer told Reuters. The move will give the healthcare system a boost and help the country’s economic revival.

The head of Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund told Reuters in an interview that Russian hospitals could an begin giving the antiviral drug, registered under the name Avifavir, to patients from June 11.

He said the company behind the drug would produce enough stocks to treat around 60,000 people a month.

There is currently no vaccine for Covid-19, and human trials of several existing antiviral drugs have yet to show their efficacy.

A new antiviral drug from Gilead called remdesivir has shown some promise in small efficacy trials against Covid-19 and is being given to patients under compassionate or emergency use rules in some countries.

Drug Avifavir enhanced

Avifavir, known generically as favipiravir, was first developed in the late 1990s by a Japanese company, later bought by Fujifilm as it moved into healthcare.

RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said Russian scientists had modified and enhanced Avifavir andMoscow would be ready to share the details of those modifications within two weeks.

Avifavir appeared on a Russian government list of approved drugs on Saturday.

Dmitriev claimed that the drug has cured around 330 people within four days in clinical trials. However, according to the Reuters report, while trials were due to be concluded in around a week, the health department gave the drug approval in haste.

Success in small-scale, early-stage trials is no guarantee of success in later, more comprehensive trials.

Dmitriev said Russia was able to cut testing timescales because the Japanese generic drug which Avifavir is based on was first registered in 2014 and had undergone significant testing before Russian specialists modified it.

“We believe this is a game-changer. It will reduce strain on the healthcare system, we’ll have fewer people getting into a critical condition,” said Dmitriev. “We believe that the drug is key to resuming full economic activity in Russia.”

With 4,14,878 cases, Russia has the third highest number of infections in the world after Brazil and the US. However, the mortality rate is relatively lower, with around 4,855 succumbing to the deadly contagion.

Published on June 02, 2020
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