Japan’s plan to recommend virus drug sees Fujifilm shares soar

TOKYO: Fujifilm Holdings Corp rose as much as 8.8% following Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato’s comments over the weekend on the country’s plans to recommend its Avigan drug to treat coronavirus.

That compared to Japan’s benchmark Topix index, which slumped as much as 4.2%, the most since December 2018, on escalating concern over the global coronavirus outbreak. Japan markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

Fujifilm is considering boosting output of the anti-influenza drug Avigan (favipiravir) after it was asked to by the Japanese government, company spokesman Takahiro Taguchi said by phone after Tokyo’s morning market close.

Avigan has previously been used to treat Ebola, according to Fujifilm’s website, and Kato said test dosages have shown effects in mild and asymptomatic coronavirus cases.

Fujifilm’s Taguchi said the company has previously supplied the government with an Avigan stockpile for two million people, aimed at treating novel or reemergent influenza. It’s not clear whether the dosage used for influenza would be appropriate for Covid-19, he said.

Separately, Jefferies analyst Masahiro Nakanomyo raised the recommendation on Fujifilm to buy from hold in light of its “relatively attractive” position among leading precision stocks.