Gilead's drug leads global race to find virus treatment
Beijing | Tokyo: China will release results at the end of April from clinical trials of a Gilead Sciences drug that is emerging as a frontrunner in the race to find an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus.
The outcome of trials of the experimental medication remdesivir on 761 patients in Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, will be made public on April 27, China's National Intellectual Property Administration said on Tuesday.
The update on the trials' progress came a day after the World Health Organization said that remdesivir may be the only effective treatment so far for the disease, which has infected almost 80,000 people and killed 2,663 as of the end of Monday, up by 71from the previous day.
On Tuesday, Fujifilm Holdings surged after its flu drug was mentioned by Japan as a treatment while pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are developing vaccines for the pathogen whose spread has shut down travel and economic activity across the world.
California-based Gilead, whose remdesivir is not licenced or approved for use anywhere in the world, seems poised to benefit as confidence grows in its drug's efficacy in treating the coronavirus. But it faces a potential hurdle over intellectual property control of the therapy, which was originally developed to treat other coronaviruses like SARS and has also been tested on Ebola.
At the Tuesday briefing, He Zhimin, vice head of National Intellectual Property Administration, said that China has not yet granted the full patent protection Gilead wants over the drug.
JAPAN'S FUJIFILM DRUG In Japan, which is seeing an uptick of cases of infection, the health minister mentioned favipiravir, an anti-viral drug developed and sold by Fujifilm under the brand name Avigan, as one of several drugs the country is testing as a treatment. The perceived endorsement sent the company's shares up as much as 8.8% on Tuesday.
Avigan is approved in Japan as a treatment for novel or re-emergent influenza and has previously also been used to treat Ebola patients in Guinea.
The company is considering boosting output of Avigan after a request from the Japanese government, Fujifilm spokesman Takahiro Taguchi said.
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