To stop this true war that the whole world continues to face against the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been missing a crucial element: a safe and effective treatment that attacks the virus when it enters the human body.
In 2009, the AH1N1 influenza epidemic was soon controlled and did not hit us as hard because the antiviral oseltamivir worked very well against that virus.
In the current pandemic, our most effective tools have been individual self-protection -use of face masks, hygiene and healthy distance-, as well as vaccines that are responding with everything and the dreaded variants. Before the Omicron there are first indications that immunization coverage is a weapon that does work, but scientists will confirm it.
About the treatments, countless existing and new alternatives have been studied. For example, monoclonal antibodies, but these being injectable and expensive are not very accessible. What will truly change the film will be the anticovid pills that are already on the way. There is that of MSD whose authorization for its sale is expected soon; there is the one from Pfizer, which is still submitted for approval. And there is one more that is from the Japanese Fujifilm consortium that has been shown to work against covid-19 and influenza.
Yes, the photography equipment company, which is also in the pharmaceutical business and among its molecules has been manufacturing an antiviral called Favipiravir for years, which with the pandemic proved to give results against Covid-19 and was approved by the health regulator more difficult than is that of Japan.
With this background, the New Molecules Committee of Cofepris in Mexico approved this pill in May 2021 for emergency use due to pandemic, and the company that will be entering it in January 2022 is the Mexican laboratory Landsteiner Scientific.
Dr. Gustavo Oláiz Fernández, UNAM academic, former Cofepris commissioner and health expert, tells us that this new therapeutic option looks very interesting. It has been included in 18 clinical studies to review its effectiveness against Covid19, but also against influenza, yellow fever, and other adenoviruses. It has been tested mainly in China, but also in Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Japan. In Japan, such results were evident that it was only recently that the Japanese government allowed Fujifilm to sell this drug outside its borders.
Favipiravir, according to studies, has shown to give good results in mild and moderate viral infections, and the same treatment structure is studied for severe cases; for example, for immunosuppressed people, it helps the Covid-19 transit to be less harsh. And this, Oláiz explains, is due to the effect of the drug on the virus molecule and its transmission chain, which by modifying the viral RNA chain prevents it from continuing to replicate. Another plus point is that it has low adverse reactions. In this regard, in Mexico it is planned to open a phase IV study with favipiravir to evaluate its risk, as well as other opportunities for use.
Arturo Morales, general director of Landsteiner Scientific, estimates that he will be launching it both in the private and public markets next January – when in Mexico we will really be experiencing the winter wave of the pandemic virus, as experts estimate. This will be once it has finished being reviewed by the National Compendium of Medicines of the General Health Council, which in turn awaits the results of some tests that will be carried out at the IMSS. The price of this antiviral, Morales shares with us, is subject to negotiation with the compendium team and Insabi, but he estimates it at about 16,000 per treatment. It is not a cheap cost, but the company believes that if it avoids hospitalization and disability in a high proportion of cases, the cost-benefit is reasonable.
Journalist on economics and health issues
Health and Business
Communicator specialized in public health and the health industry. Studying a master’s degree in Health Systems Administration at FCA of UNAM.
Founder in 2004 of www.Plenilunia.com, a concept on women’s health. I am passionate about researching and reporting on health, innovation, the science-related industry, and finding an objective business approach to each topic.