TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is considering stocking Avigan flu medication from Fujifilm Holding Corp. increase this fiscal year so that, according to a Reuters planning document, 2 million people can be treated.
Local media reported on Sunday that Japan had hoped to triple the production of the drug from its current level, which is enough to treat 700,000 people when used by coronavirus patients.
Avigan, also known as favipiravir, is made by a Fujifilm subsidiary that has a health section, although it is better known for its cameras. The drug was approved for use in Japan in 2014. Avigan is being tested in China to treat COVID-19.
In the emergency stimulus package, which is expected to launch on Tuesday, the government also planned to prioritize the clinical trial process of the drug so that it can be officially approved for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
According to the document, Japan also plans to increase subsidies to domestic companies that supply masks and disinfectants, and to secure sufficient capacity for the monthly delivery of 700 million masks.
Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday that, in an effort to reduce its dependence on China as a manufacturing center, it will subsidize companies that will move some of their manufacturing facilities back to Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday that a stimulus package to combat the coronavirus pandemic would target small businesses and households most affected by social distancing measures that impact consumption.
The package will include cash payments to small businesses and households that are experiencing a sharp drop in income, Abe said.
The government will also urge private financial institutions to offer interest-free loans to small and medium-sized businesses with cash interest, along with state lenders, he said.
(Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi; writing by Mari Saito; editing by Jacqueline Wong)