A lab technician loads bright stock filled vials of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Egypt’s pharmaceutical company Rameda says it has begun manufacturing a generic of Japanese anti-viral medicine Avigan for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and the drug is expected to be available within three weeks.

Rameda is the second Egyptian company to announce the production of the drug, which recently became Russia’s first approved coronavirus treatment.

The pharmaceutical company started the manufacturing of Anviziram tablets on Monday, Rameda CEO Amr Morsi said.

Anviziram contains the active pharmaceutical ingredient Favipiravir, which is the generic form of the antiviral medicine released under the brand name Avigan in Japan, he added.

The drug will be available in around three weeks, Morsi told MBC Masr TV, stressing that it will be offered at a lower cost than its equivalent abroad.

Morsi said that the drug eliminates the major COVID-19 symptoms of cough and fever within two-and-a-half days and five days respectively.

Lung functions recover and improve in 91 per cent of patients using the drug, compared to 61 per cent of those not on the medication.

Favipiravir is believed to combat COVID-19 by inhibiting viral reproduction, with studies indicating that the drug assists in stabilising viral reproduction four to six days after first use.

Russia started using the drug, known there as Avifavir, earlier this month - the country’s first approved COVID-19 treatment - after clinical trials showed that it successfully treated the virus in most cases within a few days.

According to Rameda’s statement, the company’s entire production of Anviziram will focus on the Egyptian market at this time, but it also aims to export the drug to neighboring countries upon approval from the health ministry and the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA).

The announcement by Rameda came as Egyptian drugmaker Eva Pharma said on Monday that it had begun manufacturing Avipiravir.

Rameda said that it has secured the EDA’s approval for intravenous Remedisvir, an antiviral medication used for treating COVID-19 patients.

Remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola, appears to shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients. The experimental drug has recently been authorised for the treatment of certain hospitalised patients in a number of countries including the US, the UK and Japan.

No vaccine for COVID-19 has yet been developed, and many countries are conducting human trials of several existing antiviral drugs to prove their efficacy.