Japan on Thursday approved the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for coronavirus patients, the government said.
Japan is the second country to approve remdesivir, next to the United States, that authorized the anti-virus drug on Friday for emergency use against severe COVID-19 cases.
“Remdesivir was approved under exceptional measures,” a health, labor and welfare ministry official said.
“It was our country’s first such approval for the treatment of coronavirus patients,” the official told AFP.
Remdesivir, which is administered by injection, was already available to some patients who enrolled in clinical trials across the globe.
“The Japanese approval of remdesivir is in recognition of the urgent need to treat critically ill patients in Japan. It is a reflection of the exceptional circumstances of this pandemic,” said Merdad Parsey, chief medical officer at Gilead Sciences.
As of April 2020, remdesivir was viewed as the most promising treatment for COVID-19 and was included among four treatments under evaluation in the international Solidarity trial and European Discovery trial.
FDA stated on 1 May 2020 that it is “reasonable to believe” that known and potential benefits of remdesivir outweigh its known and potential risks, in some specific populations hospitalized with severe COVID‑19.
Remdesivir coronavirus treatment in the Philippines
The Department of Health earlier announced the Philippines is among countries in the world who are participating in the ongoing clinical trial for remdesivir.
“Remdesivir is one of the investigational drugs included in the WHO Solidarity Trial, which the Philippines is participating in,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement.
“Eight out of 24 participating research sites are actively enrolling patients. Forty patients are currently enrolled as of this week, and they have been allocated to the different treatment groups,” Vergeire added.
DOH said 500 COVID-19 patients from the Philippines have joined the international solidarity trial.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the trial in the hope of finding a cure for respiratory disease, which already infected almost 4 million people in the world. WHO researches on the effectiveness and safety of four different medicines against COVID-19.
“Initially, 500 patients ang kasama natin dito sa trial na ito to happen in 20 hospitals in the Philippines. Mayroon sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Pilipinas na napiling ospital, hindi lang dito sa Metro Manila,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual conference.
(Initially, 500 patients were with us in this trial to happen in 20 hospitals in the Philippines. There are different hospitals in different places in the Philippines that have selected, not just here in Metro Manila.)