Dr. Reddy’s, Global Response Aid join Fujifilm to push Avigan for COVID-19 treatment

02, Jul. 2020

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) conduct a door-to-door check-up for the detection of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, July 1, 2020. (PTI)
Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) conduct a door-to-door check-up for the detection of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, July 1, 2020. (PTI)

NEW DELHI, NNA- Global Response Aid (GRA) and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (DRL) have signed a deal with Fujifilm Corp. for the global production and distribution of Avigan, an anti-viral drug being tested as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., Avigan was approved for production and sale in Japan in 2014 as an influenza drug.

The Fujifilm Group is currently conducting a clinical study on Avigan targeting COVID-19 patients in Japan and the United States. It has been working to increase its production by partnering with companies.

Under a new tripartite agreement, Fujifilm Toyama Chemical is granting DRL, a global pharmaceutical company based in India, and Dubai-based GRA, a pharmaceutical and medical supplies company, the rights to develop, sell and distribute Avigan in global markets.

It will also provide both partners with data on Avigan studies to help them implement clinical studies targeting COVID-19 patients in India, the Middle East and other regions.

The Japanese firm said DRL will produce Avigan, which comes in pill and IV form, while GRA’s global sales network will supply the drugs.

A spokesman for Fujifilm Holdings Corp. told NNA that DRL will manufacture Avigan at its plants in India, the United States and Mexico.

It is the first time that the company has given a licence to manufacture and sell Avigan, said the spokesman. DRL and GRA will introduce the product in their respective homebase countries.

A global pharmaceutical company, DRL manufactures and sells generic drugs. It also has a licensing agreement with America's Gilead Sciences Inc. to manufacture and sell its Remdesivir, another COVID-19 treatment candidate, in 127 countries including India.

GRA was established by global logistics leader Agility to procure and develop diagnostic, testing and protective products and offer services for COVID-19 and other health threats.

In a media statement on the Avigan partnership, Agility said, "The agreement will increase production volumes and help reach patients faster amid the current pandemic."

"The partnership will eventually cover manufacturing and distribution for markets that are home to 6 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people. Fujifilm will continue to market Avigan exclusively in Japan, Russia and China. Dr. Reddy’s and GRA will distribute, sell and market Avigan in all other countries globally," it added.

As an affiliate of Agility, GRA will use the logistics company’s global network.

Tarek Sultan, CEO of Agility, said, “If current testing is able to establish Avigan as a safe, effective treatment for COVID-19, we can’t afford to wait before making it available to as many people around the world as possible.”

“We need to be producing a high volume of treatment courses and have a distribution network and plan in place to make Avigan available to as many frontline health providers as possible," he added.

As of July 1, there were more than 10.3 million cases of COVID-19 and over 506,000 deaths, according to World Health Organization. More than a dozen vaccine candidates are being tested on humans currently in a scramble to find a cure.

GRA has been working with manufacturers to source products for clients such as governments, health authorities, non-government organizations and companies to combat the contagion. They include ventilators, thermal detection equipment, masks, protective suits, gloves, sanitation supplies and test kits.

GRA’s mobile phone app helps stop the spread of viruses through contact tracing and alerts. GRA also deploys mobile diagnostic testing vehicles and trained teams to perform COVID-19 testing.

Fujifilm Corp. is one of the major companies of Fujifilm Holdings. Its proprietary core technologies contribute to many fields such as healthcare, graphic systems, optical devices and digital imaging.

For the year ended March 31, 2020, the company made global revenues of $21 billion, said its media statement.