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Coronavirus

Fujifilm shares down 5% on negative Avigan report

Potential coronavirus treatment needs more data and further clinical trials

Shares in Fujifilm Holdings fell nearly 5% on Wednesday morning, following reports that the medicine does not show efficacy in fighting COVID-19. (photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

TOKYO -- Shares in Fujifilm Holdings fell nearly 5% Wednesday morning, following reports that clinical trials have shown no clear evidence of its flu drug Avigan being effective in treating coronavirus patients.

Developed by a Fujifilm subsidiary, Avigan has been a candidate for treating patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Japan's national broadcaster on Tuesday reported that clinical trials in Japan have not indicated enough evidence about the drug's effectiveness and that further clinical trials are necessary to collect more data.

Shares in Japanese chemical maker Denka Company, which supplies the raw materials for Avigan, fell around 6% at one point.

The Japanese government is planning to approve Avigan, which blocks viruses from reproducing within the body, as a coronavirus treatment within the month, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directing the health ministry to accelerate its review.

The Chinese government in mid-March said Avigan is effective against the virus. "It is very safe and clearly effective," said Zhang Xinmin, director of the science ministry's China National Center for Biotechnology Development, in a news conference on March 17.

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