Health: Japan’s Fujifilm Trial on Covid-19 Treatment

The Story:

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. is starting a new phase III trial in Japan of its new Covid-19 treatment, Avigan. This is not a vaccine, it is a treatment and possibly a cure. But Avigan (known generically as favipiravir) has caused some concern because it has been shown to cause birth defects in animal studies.

Corporate History:

In much of the world, the name “Fujifilm” still connotes a camera company. But over the years, since the rise of digital photography and the decline of traditional cameras, Fujifilm has gradually and successfully transformed into a healthcare/pharmaceuticals concern.  In December 2019 for example it acquired a diagnostic imaging business from Hitachi for US$1.63 billion.

In June 2020, Fujifilm invested $928 million in a Denmark bases biologics production facility.

In Pill Form:

Avigan, which is taken orally — and, given the results of the animal studies mentioned, cannot be taken by pregnant women — is already approved in Japan for the treatment of influenza. It selectively inhibits RNA polymerase, as so interferes with viral replication. The search for necessary regulatory approvals for Avigan as a treatment of Covid-19 is also underway in the United States, though it is at an earlier stage in the proceedings here than in Fujifilm’s home country.


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