Anti-flu drug Avigan trials delayed, reports DOH

The clinical trials for the anti-flu drug Avigan as a possible treatment for COVID-19 have yet to start, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.

Anti-influenza Avigan Tablets produced by Japan's Fujifilm are displayed in Tokyo on Oct. 22, 2014. (AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi / MANILA BULLETIN)

Previously, the DOH said that they were aiming to start the trial last August but the start date was pushed to a later date.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the three out of four participating hospitals have yet to finish their ethics review on the said drug.

“Hindi ito naumpisahan kahapon kasi nagkakaroon tayo ng delays dito sa mga ethics review among the different identified hospitals na kasama---iyong Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Sta. Ana Hospital at Quirino Memorial Medical Center,” said Vergeire during a press briefing on Wednesday.

The fourth facility, which is the Philippine General Hospital, has yet to start the trial because the memorandum of agreement for the said clinical study is currently for “legal review” at University of the Philippines-Manila, said Vergeire.

“Once all of these have been processed and been approved, we will already start,” said Vergeire.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said that China has donated Avigan medicines to the Philippines.

“Aside from this trial that we are going to have, meron pong nag-donate sa atin--I think 199,000 tablets of this Avigan medicine. Binigay ito through the National Security Council ng Pilipinas at ibinigay naman ng National Security Council sa DOH para magamit ,” said the Health official.

“Chinese po at hindi po Japan dahil ito po ay idinonate sa atin through the National Security Council and not Japan because it was donated to us through the National Security Council],” she added.

The donated drugs were already distributed to different hospitals in the country. Vergeire noted that before using these drugs, the physicians should first secure a compassionate special permit from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Hindi siya kasama doon sa clinical trial, kailangan lang, they have to undergo the process for regulating this, para nasisigurado pa rin natin na magiging ligtas ang paggamit nito at gagamit tayo nitong compassionate special permit from FDA need this compassionate special permit from FDA],” said Vergeire.