Favipiravir, an anti-influenza drug against life-threatening RNA virus infections

Pharmacol Ther. 2020 May;209:107512. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2020.107512. Epub 2020 Feb 22.

Abstract

Favipiravir has been developed as an anti-influenza drug and licensed as an anti-influenza drug in Japan. Additionally, favipiravir is being stockpiled for 2 million people as a countermeasure for novel influenza strains. This drug functions as a chain terminator at the site of incorporation of the viral RNA and reduces the viral load. Favipiravir cures all mice in a lethal influenza infection model, while oseltamivir fails to cure the animals. Thus, favipiravir contributes to curing animals with lethal infection. In addition to influenza, favipiravir has a broad spectrum of anti-RNA virus activities in vitro and efficacies in animal models with lethal RNA viruses and has been used for treatment of human infection with life-threatening Ebola virus, Lassa virus, rabies, and severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome. The best feature of favipiravir as an antiviral agent is the apparent lack of generation of favipiravir-resistant viruses. Favipiravir alone maintains its therapeutic efficacy from the first to the last patient in an influenza pandemic or an epidemic lethal RNA virus infection. Favipiravir is expected to be an important therapeutic agent for severe influenza, the next pandemic influenza strain, and other severe RNA virus infections for which standard treatments are not available.

Keywords: Antiviral agent; Chain termination; Ebola; Favipiravir; Influenza; Resistant virus.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't