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Fujifilm to restart clinical trial of Avigan to treat COVID-19 - media

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TOKYO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Fujifilm Holdings Corpwill restart a clinical trial in Japan of its antiviral drugAvigan for the treatment of COVID-19, the Nikkei newspaperreported on Sunday.

Domestic approval of the drug was delayed after a healthministry panel said in December that trial data wasinconclusive. The new study will involve about 270 patients andFujifilm will aim to seek approval again in October, Nikkeisaid.

Representatives from Fujifilm did not immediately respond toa request for comment.

Japan has approved Avigan, known generically as favipiravir,as an emergency flu medicine. But concerns remain, as the drughas been shown to cause birth defects in animal studies and itseffectiveness against COVID-19 has proven difficult todemonstrate.

Japan's government has called on Fujifilm to triple nationalstockpiles of the drug, which has been approved for COVID-19treatment in Russia, India and Indonesia.(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by William Mallard)