With more than one million infections and more than 19,100 coronavirus deaths, two Russian-made drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus were approved for sale in pharmacies, allowing more people to get treated at home announced the Ministry of Health in a statement to the state news agency RIA-Novosti on Thursday.
Both drugs are variants of Favipiravir, manufactured in Russia, the generic version of an anti-influenza drug developed by the Japanese Fujifilm. Clinical studies of the drug in tablet form have shown a reduction in the recovery time of coronavirus patients, although only Russia, India, and China officially recommend it for treatment of the virus.
One of the sanctioned drugs, registered under the brand name Areplivir, will appear on Russian pharmacies shelves in most Russian regions starting Monday 21 September 2020. The head of the manufacturer, Promomed, has confirmed this to the commercial newspaper Kommersant.
The Ministry of Health previously approved another favipiravir brand, Avifavir, although its production was largely aimed for export, with deliveries planned to the neighboring countries of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Despite the initial hope expressed by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the favipiravir was not approved for the treatment of people with Covid-19 in Japan after Fujifilm’s own tests yielded inconclusive results.
Outpatient treatment of patients with less severe cases of the coronavirus should reduce pressure on the Russian health sector and keep hospital beds open for patients with serious complications caused by the virus.
Although Russia is strongly committed to its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which is currently in the final testing phase, almost half of the Russian population remains skeptical about the vaccine and says it would “never” take the vaccine.
Another drug, Koronavir, is expected to be available at the same time. The manufacturer of Koronavir R-Farm, claims that the drug minimizes the complications associated with Covid-19. More than 50% of the patients in the clinical trial of Koronavir showed improvements after seven days of treatment, which is 1.5 times better than the control group that did not receive the drug, the manufacturer told the RBC news website.