Apr 01, 2020

No permission yet to import Avigan Featured

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) says neither the State Pharmaceutical Corporation or any private company has yet obtained permission to import the Japanese drug 'Avigan', which is currently being tested for its success against the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).

According to usual procedure, permission should be obtained from the NMRA before any drug is imported to Sri Lanka and should be registered with the authority as well.

However, NMRA chairman - Prof. Asitha de Silva says no company has obtained permission to import 'Avigan' so far.

The drug  favipiravir, developed by Japan's Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, is sold under the brand name Avigan.  China has began to recommend the drug after clinical trials were conducted on patients at hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen and were deemed successful.

However, the Nikkei Asian Review says , "the positive reception in China contrasts with reservations over Avigan in Japan, where the drug obtained regulatory approval in 2014 on condition that it would only be used if the government decided to fight new or re-emerging influenza viruses. Studies found that the drug may cause fetal deaths or deformities, and can be transferred in semen."

It also adds a Fujifilm spokesperson as to saying that the company is not involved in the Chinese clinical trials and is currently evaluating them.

'Not effective'

However, Sri Lankan microbiologist and renowned pathologist - Prof. Malik Peiris had noted that their tests had found that this drug was ineffective against Covid-19.

Avigan stock arrives in Sri LankaHowever, A limited stock of Avigan was donated to Sri Lanka based on a special request made by the government.

Accordingly a stock of 5,000 tablets were brought into the country yesterday (31).

Chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Dr. Prasanna Gunasena said that the drug would be administered under the recommendation of specialists.

The NMRA also considers the recommendations of the World Health Organization when recommending such a drug to patients.

Bringing down the durg to Sri Lanka is a hot topic on social media and some posts even suggested that the former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too, was involved in this.

(Source : Aruna)