Shionogi says Japan government to buy 1 million more COVID pill doses

FILE PHOTO: Isao Teshirogi, President and CEO at Shionogi & Co Ltd, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) – Shionogi & Co Ltd said on Tuesday the Japanese government agreed to purchase an additional 1 million doses of its oral treatment for COVID-19.

Shionogi previously agreed to sell a million doses of the drug, a protease inhibitor known as ensitrelvir and commercially as Xocova, to the government pending approval. The added supply agreement comes at a time when Japan is dealing with an eighth wave of COVID infections.

Regulators granted emergency approval for Xocova last month. They had previously postponed approval saying they wanted to see more data on its effectiveness and amid concerns that the drug could pose a risk to pregnancies, based on results from animal studies.

Xocova is an oral antiviral agent taken once daily for five days to suppress replication of the virus.

The drug is Japan’s first domestically developed oral drug for patients with mild COVID symptoms. Other pill-based treatments developed by Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co were previously approved for use in Japan.

Shionogi said it expected the expanded supply deal to have a limited impact on its results in the year through March 2023.

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