Nov 11, 2014 06:48 PM EST
With worsening conditions in the epidemic hot spot of West Africa over recent months, the quest for a cure, treatment or vaccine has led many researchers to experiment and test different drugs that could finally solve the problem that is Ebola. Recently, a drug against influenza has shown promise in treating Ebola-infected patients; and its impressive performance against the virus might just give it an approval from international government bodies.
Avigan -- also known as favipiravir --an approved Fujifilm Holdings Corp--anti-influenza drug in Japan has been used and proved successful in curing patients with Ebola in France, Germany, Spain and Norway to date.
"So far, four Ebola patients have recovered after being treated with the drug," Fujifilm Chairman and Chief executive Shigetaka Komori told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday at a press conference.
And the company hopes that the success will continue on an even wider scale after a clinical trial is well-underway. This month, clinical testing of the drug will begin in Guinea led by the governments of the West African country and France, and around 60 patients will join the test to fully establish the drug's efficacy that will help for its formal approval as a medicine to treat Ebola infection. The test, approved by the World Health Organization, will likely continue until the end of the year.
After obtaining approval, the use of Avigan to treat Ebola patients could increase "dramatically," Komori said.
According to reports, Fujifilm has provided Avigan in response to requests from governments and medical organizations treating patients evacuated from West Africa, where the epidemic has killed thousands.
Fujifilm said it will also produce the drug in preparation for its administration to a larger number of Ebola patients. The company said its Avigan stockpile would be sufficient to treat 20,000 patients, and it has enough ingredients to make tablets to treat 300,000 people.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is committed to helping fight the Ebola war. "Ebola is a threat to international peace and stability. Japan will add up to $100 million in aid, on top of $40 million already announced," Abe said.
"Furthermore, it's been said the drug made by a Japanese drugmaker is effective, so we'd like to make big contributions on this front," he added.
In a report published by Reuters, Fujifilm is said to have plans of spending 400 billion to 500 billion yen in mergers and acquisition deals over the next three years as it strengthens its healthcare operation, which consists of medical equipment, drugs and cosmetics businesses.
Hopefully, after the release of the results of the tests, the approval of Avigan would finally lead to a more hopeful and positive battle against Ebola, and may usher the end of the epidemic.
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