Russia, on the other hand, has emerged as the “winner” in the race for medical excellence, neglecting safety and efficiency at the expense of the primacy of the world, presenting itself as a global favorite in the fight to stop the disease.

Further testing is needed to determine if Favipiravir is safe and effective.

On October 29th , the media in North Macedonia reported that the drug favipiravir was permanently registered in Russia for the treatment of COVID-19. Namely, in an accelerated procedure, the green light was given for the prevention drugs (vaccines) and the antiviral drugs remedisivir and levilimab, while favipiravir received a permanent certificate for registration. Earlier this month, Russian Assistant Minister of Health Alexei Kuznetsov said that no serious side effects had been reported in Russia with favipiravir-based preparations for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. According to the results of three phases of clinical trials, Russian preparations based on favipiravir have proven their safety and efficacy and are successfully used for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

Russia’s health ministry registered favipiravir in late May, saying its effectiveness was “about 90 percent.” The drug was developed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Himrar company in the Russian city of Khimki, based on the Japanese flu drug of the same name, favipiravir, also known as the commercial brand Avigan.

In June, when Russian clinics received the drug for treatment, Deutsche Welle published an article on what is known about this Japanese drug, how effective it is, what the risks are, and why German experts are cautious in their assessments. Namely, favipiravir (avigan) was registered in Japan in 2014, as a drug against influenza. The manufacturer of the drug is the company “Fujifilm Toyama”. It can be used with certain restrictions, i.e. it can be used against new influenza viruses in cases when other drugs do not work, in other words, as a last resort. According to Western media, the registration process itself was difficult and took three years due to one of the side effects – deformities in newborns. Therefore, the drug is contraindicated in pregnant and lactating mothers. The same restriction of use applies to Russian avifavir.

Prior to the coronavirus, Avigan was not a successful competitor to other influenza drugs in Japan; Since February 2020, it has been used in Japanese hospitals to treat patients with the coronavirus. The drug is not used for its direct purpose, in this case for influenza, but for the treatment of the coronavirus, in cases where nothing else helps. Judging by the first preliminary results in Japan, the drug works well in those patients with a mild form of coronavirus, but it is not effective in severe cases.

Japan is not the only country where Avigan is used to treat the coronavirus. About 40 countries, including Germany, have been using it in clinical trials since April, along with dozens of other potential drugs against COVID-19. Favipiravir is also manufactured and used in clinical trials against the coronavirus in China. One of Germany’s best-known virologists at the Charité Clinic in Berlin, Christian Drusten, has previously pointed out that in China patients received high doses of the drug favipiravir and that some were found to have signs of renal dysfunction. According to him, this side effect calls into question its long-term use.

German experts interviewed by Deutsche Welle are cautiously optimistic about the use of favipiravir against COVID-19. “This substance promises, comparable to remedisivir, it’s good that it is, but by our criteria, its effectiveness has not been proven,” said Professor Helmut Hahn, chairman of the board of the German-Russian Forum. This was announced in June 2020, when Russian clinics received the drug favipiravir for the treatment of COVID-19.

But to what extent are the clinical trials of the drug favipiravir and what results have been achieved to date, when in Russia it has already received a permanent certificate of registration? We looked at the latest publication from the American National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on October 27th. Namely, according to this latest announcement, so far there is not enough information from specific tests to draw any conclusion about the use of favipiravir for the treatment of coronavirus.

According to them, extensive, placebo-controlled studies of randomly selected hospitalized patients with COVID-19 are required, and proper monitoring of all relevant parameters to determine whether favipiravir is useful and in which specific cases it can be used to treat COVID. -19 with sufficient level of safety and efficiency.




This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.


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