US pushing unapproved drug from Japan to fight COVID-19

The Trump administration is asking health regulators to allow use of a Japanese flu drug as a COVID-19 treatment despite concerns about the risks associated with it and limited data proving it works, Politico reported. 

The drug, Avigan, is made by Fujifilm. It's a decades-old flu treatment in Japan, but health officials have repeatedly rejected the use of the drug in the U.S. 

The White House National Security Council reportedly has been pushing for the U.S. to accept donations of the drug from Japan, which would require the FDA to grant emergency use authorization for Avigan to be used against COVID-19, according to Politico

Fujifilm, the FDA and HHS also have discussed clinical trials of Avigan in the U.S., according to documents reviewed by Politico

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has championed the drug for use in combating COVID-19 and Japan is conducting clinical trials testing its effectiveness against the disease, reports Politico. Fujifilm has also asked the U.S. to fund its research on the drug.

Chinese scientists have also championed the drug, Politico reported. But U.S. researchers have expressed concern about risks associated with it, including birth defects, and have said the drug data from China is insufficient. 

An FDA spokesperson told Politico that the agency "will not speculate" on whether the agency will grant an emergency use authorization for the drug. 

Read the full article here.


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