A total of 100 COVID-19 patients in the Philippines will take anti-flu medication Avigan in order to test the drug’s efficacy against the disease, said the Department of Health (DOH) on May 6.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Japan will provide Avigan for free for 100 patients. The DOH is already working on guidelines to select which hospitals and patients will undergo the trials.
"Pipili po tayo ng mga ospital na isasali natin sa trial na ito. At doon po sa mga ospital na yun, magkakaroon po tayo ng protocol kung paano pipiliin ang mga pasyente," she said in a press briefing.
Vergeire clarified that consent of the patients is needed before undergoing trial.
In March, Japan carried out clinical studies on Avigan, also known as favipiravir, to see if it can effectively treat patients with COVID-19. Several reports have claimed that Avigan worked on Japanese patients, and even on cases in China.
Aside from the Philippines, Japan will also send Avigan to 42 other countries for clinical trials and research purposes.
According to Vergeire, the Philippines is set to conduct clinical trials in the “coming days” as Japan already gave a go-signal.
"Patuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa Japan para sa supply of this drug which is Avigan na ipapadala po nila. Nakapagbigay na sila ng go-signal dahil po dito," she said.
Aside from Avigan, the Philippine General Hospital has used plasma from recovered patients to help treat milder cases of COVID-19. Convalescent plasma therapy is not yet an official cure, but some patients have reported faster recoveries after the treatment.
As of 4 p.m. on May 6, there are 10,004 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 658 deaths and 1,506 recoveries.