DOH allocates P18 million for clinical trials of Japan flu drug

Bonz Magsambol
DOH allocates P18 million for clinical trials of Japan flu drug
(UPDATED) Around 80 to 100 patients are expected to undergo the clinical trials for the use of the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) has allocated P18 million for the clinical trials of the Japanese anti-flu drug Avigan, President Rodrigo Duterte said in his 8th weekly report on the implementation of the anti-COVID-19 response law, which he submitted to Congress on Monday, May 18.

“The DOH, through its Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and System Research, has allocated P18 million for Avigan Trials,” Duterte’s report said. 

According to the report, 3 sites have been identified for the trials of Avigan for 80 to 100 patients.

In a text message to Rappler on Tuesday, May 19, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the drugs for the clinical trial would be donated by the Japanese government. 

“The P18 million will be used for other expenses related to the trial including clinical monitoring and for the indemnity of patients, if in case there are adverse events,” Vergeire said

Avigan is the brand name of the drug favipiravir. It was developed by what is now known as Fujifilm Toyama Chemical and approved for use in Japan in 2014. (READ: Avigan: Antiviral being tested for coronavirus patients)

The DOH earlier cautioned against the use of Avigan on pregnant women as studies have shown that it may result in birth defects.

Clinical trials to test the effectiveness and safety of Avigan in coronavirus patients started around April, after earlier positive results from China.

The Philippines is part of the solidarity trial of the World Health Organization, which aims to find a cure for COVID-19.

On May 5, the DOH announced that the Philippines would receive a free supply of anti-flu drug from the Japanese government to test if it could treat COVID-19. (READ: PH to receive free supply of Japan flu drug for coronavirus cure trial)

The free supply is part of the $1 million worth of trial drug distributed by Japan to dozens of countries through the United Nations Office for Project Services. 

Rappler has reached out to the DOH for more details about the P18 million allocation. –


Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.