FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation Expects Avigan To Be Approved For Ebola By End Of The Year

FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation Expects Avigan To Be Approved For Ebola By End Of The Year

November 11, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Editor

Fujifilm Holdings Corp saw its share price shoot up Tuesday after it announced it expects its influenza drug Avigan to be approved by global regulators to treat Ebola within the next two months, the company’s chief executive officer told reporters in Tokyo.

"So far, four Ebola patients have recovered after being treated with the drug," Fujifilm Chairman and Chief executive Shigetaka Komori told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. "We believe that the drug will become highly effective to treat the disease."

The news sent the company’s shares up 2.67 percent in early trading Tuesday. If it keeps climbing, it could see its highest close since 2008.

Fujifilm said its current stockpile of Avigan would be enough to treat 20,000 people, with the capacity to make around 300,000 more doses.

At least 18 companies are currently working on Ebola vaccines and therapies are the biotech world races to find a cure for an epidemic that has killed at least 5,000 people in West African alone.

Avigan was approved by Japanese regulators earlier this year to treat new forms of the flu, but has now been used in Norway, Germany, Spain and France to treat Ebola patients. Fujifilm originally bought the rights to the drug in 2008 when it acquired Toyama Chemical Co.

It is now waiting on French and Guinean trials that will test 200 mg doses of Avigan used to treat Ebola patients in those countries, with results likely by the end of this year. After those are received, it will likely take around a month for the drug to get the stamp of approval from regulators to treat Ebola, Takatoshi Ishikawa, who heads the company's pharmaceutical business, told Reuters.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded the distinctly Japanese effort to fight Ebola when talking to reporter in Beijing Tuesday.

"Ebola is a threat to international peace and stability. Japan will add up to $100 million in aid, on top of $40 million already announced," Abe. "Furthermore, it's been said the drug made by a Japanese drugmaker is effective, so we'd like to make big contributions on this front," he said.

Fujifilm also reported Tuesday that it expects to post 220 billion yen in operating profit for the year ending March 2017, while returning more than 200 billion yen to shareholders through stock buyback plans. It announced it could spend as much as 500 billion yen over the next three years as it goes shopping for snap-on businesses for its healthcare unit, including M&A deals for medical equipment and drugs.

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