A lab assistant tests drugs at a pharmaceutical company in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, on March 4, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
Chinese researchers have completed clinical studies of favipiravir, which shows promising clinical efficacy in treating the novel coronavirus pneumonia, Zhang Xinmin, head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development, said on Tuesday.
Experiments have shown that patients treated with favipiravir recovered more quickly and their lung conditions improved better than patients in the control group, he said.
Some pharmaceutical enterprises have already obtained drug approval from the State Food and Drug Administration for mass production in February, so the supply of favipiravir is guaranteed, he said, adding that researchers have already recommended the drug be included in the treatment plan as soon as possible.
The Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen in Guangdong province conducted a clinical trial on 80 patients, with 35 receiving the drug. The results showed that patients who took favipiravir tested negative within four days of treatment, whereas patients in the control group needed 11 days to test negative.
The lung conditions of 91.4 percent of the treated group improved as shown in chest imaging, compared with 62.2 percent of the control group, Zhang said.
In another experiment on 120 patients conducted by Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Hubei province, the treated group had a higher recovery rate at the end of the treatment; further, fever reduction and cough relief took less time for them, he added.
In terms of safety, Zhang said, the drug-developed in Japan and approved for marketing there in 2014-has shown no obvious adverse effects.
"In view of the safety, obvious efficacy and availability of the drug, researchers have officially recommended favipiravir to medical teams and suggested it be included in the treatment plan as soon as possible," he said.
Zhang said the research team will further promote the application of their research results in Wuhan and will promote the Chinese treatment plan in response to the current global pandemic situation.