Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said Monday it has completed delayed clinical tests of Avigan, a potential treatment for COVID-19, paving the way for the application of sales and production of the antivirus drug.

Supplied photo shows tablets of the anti-influenza drug Avigan. (Photo courtesy of Fujifilm)(PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Kyodo)

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings, is conducting analysis of data from the tests to confirm the safety and efficacy of Avigan, which could be the third drug for the treatment of novel coronavirus patients if approved by the government.

In Japan, the antiviral drug remdesivir developed by U.S. firm Gilead Sciences Inc. was given the green light in May, followed by the steroid drug dexamethasone.

Fujifilm Toyama began clinical tests in March to see if Avigan was effective in treating patients with the respiratory disease caused by the virus and they were initially expected to end by June. But it was delayed as a downtrend in the number of new infection cases in the country made it difficult to gather enough patient data, targeted at 96.

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Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had expressed hope to have the drug, also known as favipiravir, approved in May but a Japanese university's interim report, released in mid-May, did not show any clear efficacy of Avigan against COVID-19.

Japan saw a resurgence in new virus cases following the lifting of a state of emergency in late May but the numbers of infections have moderated recently.