Guinea green-lights expansive use of experimental Ebola drug


The government of Guinea will expand the use of favipiravir – also known as Avigan – after human trials showed promising results. “We have decided to broaden the use of this drug. It will only be available in the Ebola Treatment Units, not the hospitals,” coordinator of Guinea's Ebola response Sakoba Keita told the press Saturday. The experimental drug manufactured by Fujifilm’s Toyama Chemical of Japan has been tested 80 patients in the southern towns of Gueckedou and Nzerekorein since December 17th by French and Guinean teams. Though no official data has been provided, the office of the French president François Hollande said Wednesday that results were positive and that favipiravir seemed to hasten the recovery of patients and decrease the number of deaths.

The drug has also been distributed to the town of Coyah and “we are looking to see how we can get it to other parts of the country too” such as the capital Conakry, Keita said. According to Guinea's anti-Ebola task force, approximately 12 new cases were reported in the past two weeks for a total of 53 as of Friday. As healthcare workers access villages where they had previously been persona non grata, hidden cases have come to light and the recent downward trend in the three hardest-hit countries reversed. “The Ebola situation is getting better but we are not cured,” French Ebola expert Jean-François Delfraissy, who is working with Guinean authorities, said. On Wednesday, Hollande met with Delfraissy and medical research organization Inserm’s CEO Yves Levy to discuss the drug.

Unlike another potential treatment for Ebola called brincidofovir, researchers were able to use a significant sample of patients to test Avigan. Moreover, Toyoma has said that, unlike ZMapp, they have more than 20,000 doses available and ready to be administered in short notice.