Experimental Drugs Remdesivir and Favipiravir to get Clinical Trials

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To keep our readers up to date with some of the more popular topics surrounding Covid-19, we wanted to take a look at some of the experimental drugs that are being mentioned as a possible treatment.

We’ll start with the company Gilead and their in-development antiviral drug Remdesivir.  This is a drug that you may have seen in the news recently as a possible treatment for the Coronavirus, as it has been used by a Chicago hospital to treat some patients with severe cases of Covid-19.  Remdesivir was targeted early on as a potential drug, and now there is news that some of the patients are responding to the treatment.  Of the 125 people they admitted, two patients have died and most of the rest have been discharged from the University of Chicago Medicine, and the drug is being used in more tests throughout the country. 

However, we only have a a small sample size at the moment and this test is in no way able to determine the drug’s full effectiveness against Covid-19.  One of the complications when trying to determine this is that there is no placebo group to test against in these studies.  Medical officials say they see a decrease in fevers in patients who are on Remdesivir treatments, and that they have seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy.  So, there are some positives to take away from this testing, but it is important to not jump to conclusions regarding the testing of these drugs.

Moving on to another drug – Favipiravir is a drug being tested by the Japanese company Fujifilm.  Favipiravir was approved for sale as Avigan by the Japanese government back in 2014 as an antiviral influenza drug, and is now being tested against Covid-19.  Clinical trials have been ongoing in Japan and the government has placed an order for 2 million treatment courses.  The clinicals Fujifilm is conducting in Japan currently involves 100 people and they expect it to conclude at the end of May.  Meanwhile they have also begun a clinical trial of 50 people here in the US.  Fujifilm representatives so far have said no adverse reactions to the drug have been discovered and they noted that the Japanese government is the only group to have ordered such a large amount of the drug for testing. 

You may have seen Favipiravir – or Avigan – in the news earlier this month as the Whitehouse urged the FDA to approve the drug as a possible treatment.  In the past The FDA has rejected it with worries about potential side effects.  One of the issues surrounding Avigan is that it did have testing in China, and when nearly 240 patients were treated, it had similar effective numbers to other influenza antiviral drugs.  If its effectiveness is comparable to other antiviral drugs yet carries a higher chance of side effects, using the drug for larger testing or as a treatment altogether for Covid-19, needs to be met with caution.

The use of these experimental drugs as a possible treatment for Covid-19 gives us some hope that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel soon.  Seeing a decrease in symptoms in patients as further testing is done will give us a clearer picture as to what drugs are effective at fighting the virus, but we have to remain cautious about making conclusions about these drugs as they are not yet fully proven to work.   As the clinicals expand and more information is known, please be sure to check back with us frequently for more updates regarding this and other health issues here on the ABN blog.

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