THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
July 12, 2021 at 17:45 JST
This image from an electron microscope shows the novel coronavirus. (Provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
The health ministry plans to approve the experimental antibody cocktail therapy famously used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump when he caught COVID-19 in 2020 for use in Japan.
U.S. biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. developed the drug, which was approved for emergency use in the United States last year.
COVID-19 patients at high risk of worsening their symptoms who had not been hospitalized cut their chances of death or hospitalization by 70 percent after taking the drug, according to clinical tests abroad.
Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., which is in charge of the domestic sales of the drug, had applied for special approval for its use in Japan in June.
The ministry plans to soon discuss the manufacture and sale of the drug at a meeting and finalize approval of its use as early as within July.
The drug is expected to win approval as the fourth available remedy for treating COVID-19 patients in Japan.
The intravenous drug, which combines casirivimab and imdevimab, two neutralizing antibodies acting on viruses, would be the first available treatment for COVID-19 in Japan that targets patients with mild or moderate conditions.
Chugai Pharmaceutical has conducted domestic clinical tests since March on the drug and secured contracts with the government to supply it for 2021.
Three drugs have been approved to treat COVID-19 patients in Japan: remdesivir, dexamethasone and baricitinib. All are targeted at patients with moderate or serious conditions.
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