Avigan // Courtesy of TRT World/Screengrab from Laging Handa briefing


The site initiation meeting for the country’s clinical trials of anti-viral drug Avigan, a potential treatment against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), began last weekend, a health official said Wednesday.

“We have conducted a site initiation meeting where all site investigators were included on Saturday and Sunday this past week,” Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual media forum.

The site selection and its readiness to enroll subjects for a clinical trial were discussed in a site initiation meeting.

Vergeire said the clinical trial would begin once the memorandum of agreement between the DOH and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) for the trial’s funding is signed.

The PCHRD, which is under the supervision of the Department of Science and Technology, is a national body tasked to allocate government and external funds for health research and development in the country.

“The MOA (memorandum of agreement) with PCHRD para sa pondo ng trial na ito ay pipirmahan na lang po at matatapos na (for the fund of this trial will just be signed and completed) and for the database, we have provided tablets, we had (a) dry run and deed of donation is to be signed. So, hopefully with all of these which are just for signatures, we hope we can already start soon in the coming days,” she said.

The DOH received from Tokyo its Avigan supply allotted for 100 patients who are part of the clinical trial which was supposed to start on Sept. 1.

Some researches have revealed that Avigan, developed by a subsidiary of Japan-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., is seen as an effective drug in treating Covid-19.

It has drawn interest from many countries for its potential to counter viral replication.

In Japan, the drug showed some promise in treating Covid-19 infected patients as some of them recovered after taking it.

However, health experts cautioned against its use because the drug has one dangerous potential side effect — birth defects.

The arrival of the drug is part of Tokyo’s emergency grant aid to countries severely affected by the pandemic.

The hospitals where the trial will be conducted include the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, and Sta. Ana Hospital. (PNA)



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