Fujifilm shares fall after report Avigan not showing clear efficacy in some coronavirus trials

TOKYO: Shares of Fujifilm Holdings Corp fell on Wednesday after Kyodo news agency reported that so far there has been no clear evidence of efficacy for its drug Avigan in treating the novel coronavirus in some clinical trials.

The data reported to Japan’s health ministry by hospitals treating people showing mild or no symptoms raises doubts about whether the drug can be approved by the end of this month as sought by Japan’s government, the report said, citing unidentified sources.

Fujifilm spokeswoman Kana Matsumoto said the company was not involved in the clinical research conducted mainly at Fujita Health University or other observational studies.

“Fujifilm is not aware of, nor in a position to comment on the results,” she said, adding that the company will evaluate the anti-flu drug through the clinical trials it is currently conducting in Japan and the United States.

Its shares were down 3% in morning trade.

They hit record highs in April amid optimism about Avigan as a treatment for the disease that has killed more than 300,000 worldwide. The government called on Fujifilm to triple national stockpiles of the drug, which was approved in 2014 in Japan as an emergency flu treatment.

Interest in Avigan, known generically as favipiravir, soared in March after a Chinese official said it appeared to help patients recover from COVID-19. It is now the subject of at least 16 clinical trials around the world.

Concerns remain about the drug as it has been shown to cause birth defects in animal studies.

The Japanese government has pledged to give away free supplies of Avigan, with more than 40 countries making formal requests.- REUTERS