Favipira double-blind trial
- Each tablet costs Tk400
- Beacon pharma brought it to Bangladesh in April
- Trialled among 50 patients in 4 hospitals in Dhaka
- 48 percent recovered or tested negative after 4 days, 96 percent after 10 days
- For the placebo group, recovery rate was 0 percent after 4 days, 52 percent after 10 days
- Patients' lung conditions improved three times than placebo group members
- No side effect in liver, kidney and carbohydrate in blood
- Bangladesh Society of Medicine ran the trial
A clinical trial of Beacon Pharmaceuticals' Favipira tablet, to treat Covid-19 patients, has yielded a 96 percent success rate.
Associate Professor of the medicine department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital Syed Ghulam Mogni Mowla announced the trial results at a seminar at the Westin Hotel in the capital on Wednesday.
Beacon Pharmaceutical arranged the seminar, while the Bangladesh Society of Medicine ran the trial.
Favipiravir is the generic name of Favipira, which is known as Avigan in Japan. Beacon pharma brought it to Bangladesh in April.
Favipira was trialled among 50 patients in four hospitals in Dhaka: the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital, Dhaka Mahanagar General Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, and Mugda Medical College and Hospital.
Syed Ghulam said 48 percent of patients recovered or tested negative for the virus four days after taking Favipira, and 96 percent did so after 10 days.
For the placebo group, this rate was zero percent after four days, and 52 percent after 10 days.
Those taking Favipira showed an improvement in their lungs three times higher than those in the placebo group.
However, patients with complex conditions or pregnant women were not given the tablet.
The medication did not result in any side effects to the patients' livers, kidneys or carbohydrates in the blood. Moreover, neither the experimental group nor the placebo group suffered any significant side effects.
Speakers at the seminar said those who did not test positive for Covid-19 or do not have symptoms should not take Favipira. Only those who are reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) positive should take it.
Real time RT-PCR is one of the most widely-used laboratory methods for detecting the novel coronavirus.
Each Favipira tablet costs Tk400. Patients have to complete a course of seven to 10 days based on doctors' advice and the stage of the disease.
Professor Dr ABM Abdullah, personal physician of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and former dean of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University's medicine department, told the seminar the trial of the tablet among 50 patients could not be described as final at this moment.
He said the trial should be run among several thousand other patients – including those in hospitals outside Dhaka.
However, Favipira can be used now in early stages as no medicine has yet been invented to treat novel coronavirus patients, Abdullah said.
"Asymptomatic patients routinely testing positive, however, should not be given this tablet," added the physician.
Professor Dr Syed Modasser Ali, chairman of Bangladesh Medical Research Council, said patients have to take Favipira as per doctors' advice as there is no specific drug at this moment to treat them.
However, they should not take it indiscriminately, he warned.
"This is not a preventive medicine. As long as there is no vaccine, there will be no preventive medication," said Modasser.
He said it would take another two years for the vaccine to be available and people should follow health guidelines until then.
Favipira was clinically trialled in Bangladesh to know if it was effective and safe. The double-blind trial, named Dhaka Trial, was carried out as per rules of the drug directorate and Bangladesh Medical Research Council.