Japan ready to offer flu drug for Ebola treatment
Japan said Monday it is ready to provide a Japanese-developed anti-influenza drug as potential treatment to fight the rapidly expanding Ebola outbreak.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan can offer the anti-influenza tablet favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., any time at the request of the World Health Organization.
The drug, developed by a Fujifilm subsidiary Toyama Chemical Co. to treat novel and re-emerging influenza viruses, was approved by the Japanese health ministry in March.
Fujifilm spokesman Takao Aoki said ebola and influenza viruses are the same type and theoretically similar effects can be expected on Ebola. He said the drug has also proved effective in lab experiments on mice.
Fujifilm said it has favipiravir stock for more than 20,000 patients. The company is also in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on clinical testing of the drug in treating Ebola.
Favipiravir is one of only few drugs that may work on Ebola. Recently, two Americans have been treated with another experimental drug called ZMapp, developed by San Diego Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.
Ebola has killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa in the latest outbreak.