Fujifilm Says Influenza Drug Avigan Has Successfully Treated Four Ebola Patients

Unlike many antivirals that keep a virus from ‘budding’ and exiting the cell, Avigan inhibits the viral RNA polymerase. Graphic: Toyama Chemical website. Click image to learn more

[F]ujifilm has certainly diversified its holdings in recent years; a good idea in a world that seldom buys film. Today’s report indicates that Fujifilm’s recent acquisition of pharmaceutical lab Toyama Chemical, might just reap multiple benefits.

According to a report today:

“So far, four Ebola patients have recovered after being treated with the drug,” Shigetaka Komori, Fujifilm’s chairman and CEO, said, in a news conference, according to Reuters, adding: “We believe that the drug will become highly effective to treat the disease.”

One might wonder why experimental drugs are being used right and left to treat Ebola in the US, Spain, and France, but it’s actually not uncommon during emergency situations. In a viral infection with a high mortality rate and no ‘cure’ or approved therapeutics, many companies will offer end-stage research products to see if they might find a new market. Avigan is an RNA polymerase inhibitor, which means it has the potential to work for more than just avian influenzas like H5N1 and H7N9.

Perhaps Avigan will prove to be a medicine that works, but with only four success stories, the burden of proof remains on Toyama Chemical. I hope to see more research into this intriguing area, and I also hope that WHO and our own FDA also want a bit more ‘proof’ before offering what could prove to be ‘false hope’ or worse, an antiviral that bites.

To read today’s article about Avigan and Ebola, see Fujifilm Says Influenza Drug Avigan Has Successfully Treated Four Ebola Patients.