Favipiravir May be an Effective COVID-19 Treatment

The drug, which is approved for use in Japan and China, may help those with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

Favipiravir may be a beneficial treatment for mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to a study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.1

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 1.39 million deaths and there have been more than 59.2 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.2 Favipiravir is an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) inhibitor that is approved in Japan and China for the treatment of novel influenza virus.1

Currently, 2 other trials have demonstrated that favipiravir has an advantage over other antivirals in treating COVID-19. Additionally, it is estimated that over 80% of patients with COVID-19 experience mild-to-moderate illness. However, very little antiviral research has investigated therapeutic interventions in this patient group.1

The randomized, open-label phase 3 study took place across 7 sites in India. Study participation had a maximum treatment period of 28 days. Care was provided past the 14-day mark based on investigator judgement. The control arm received standard of care alone while the study group received standard of care plus favipiravir. Drugs with suspected antiviral activity against SARS CoV-2, including hydroxychloroquine, were prohibited.1

Patients treated with favipiravir met the primary end point of median time to RT-PCR negativity 28.7% sooner than those treated with standard of care alone. However, according to the study, the median time to viral clearance was shorter in the control group (7 days) than in the study group (11 days). The statistically significant endpoint was not achieved.1

“Faster viral clearance would be expected to reduce the duration of infectivity during the early course of disease, which would yield critical reductions in the secondary attack rate, duration of quarantine, and burden on health care providers and facilities,” study authors write.1

Favipiravir was found to be well tolerated, and no adverse events led to drug discontinuation. One patient in the control group died of acute respiratory distress syndrome.1

REFERENCES

1. Udwadia, Zarir, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Favipiravir, an Oral RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase Inhibitor, in Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19: A Randomized, Comparative, Open-Label, Multicenter, Phase 3 Clinical Trial. November 8, 2020. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.11.142

2. WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. The World Health Organization. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://covid19.who.int.

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