A Russian-made drug that may help treat COVID-19 is a step closer to being released after moving into the final stages of clinical trials.
Favipiravir is being tested by Russian pharmaceutical investment firm ChemRar with the support of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). On Thursday, clinical trials moved to the final stage in which it is tested on a randomized sample of COVID-19 patients.
The drug has several advantages including significantly reducing patient recovery time, and its availability in tablet form, making it easier to use, according to an earlier statement from the RDIF.
“We noticed a faster improvement in the general health and clinical condition of the patients taking Favipiravir, which may lead to earlier discharge from hospital and reduce the burden on medical facilities by 30-40 percent in the near future,” said Elena Yakubova, CEO of ChemRar Pharma in a statement.
The final stage of trials were approved to begin on May 21, involving 330 patients, the statement said. Earlier results had suggested that the drug has no new or previously unreported side effects and brought down the body temperature of a majority, 68 percent, of patients twice as fast as patients not taking favipiravir. Complete elimination of the coronavirus took on average around four days with the drug, compared to around nine days with standard treatment.
“Thanks to the administration of Favipiravir, most patients are not infectious as early as the fifth day of treatment, which is critical to stop the epidemic and ensure a swift return to normal life,” Yakubova added.
After four days of treatment with the drug, 65 percent of a test group of 40 patients were found to test negative for the virus. By day 10, the number of patients testing negative had reached 35.
“We continue to receive promising data during the clinical trials of Favipiravir. At least 85 percent of patients in the control groups completely recovered from coronavirus within 10 days after the start of the treatment with the drug. We expect a positive final result of the trial, which will enable us to complete the registration procedure for the drug in Russia,” RDIF’S CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in the statement.
Various drugs across the globe are currently undergoing rapid testing to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which as claimed nearly 300,000 lives worldwide. Regulators have lifted normal limits on testing to fast track potential drugs to widespread adoption.
In the US, drugs including remdesivir and famotidine have shown positive results, while a combination of triple antiviral medicine was recently shown to help relieve symptoms of patients in a small clinical trial in Hong Kong.