TOKYO — Japanese health authorities on Thursday approved remdesivir for use against the novel coronavirus, piggybacking on the antiviral drug’s U.S. authorization in order to accelerate the process.
Remdesivir, developed by American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, will be administered to severely ill COVID-19 patients. It is the first drug approved by Japan’s health ministry to treat the virus.
Approval was given within four days of Gilead’s application Monday under an expedited review process for pharmaceuticals that are sold overseas. Remdesivir was granted emergency use authorization last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Trial results announced in late April by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that COVID-19 patients treated with remdesivir recovered in 11 days on average, compared with 15 days for those given a placebo. The trial found no significant difference in mortality rates.
Japan’s health ministry aims to approve flu drug Avigan this month to treat mild coronavirus cases, expanding the country’s medical arsenal in hopes of promoting a quicker return to a normal economy.