National / Science & Health

Fujifilm share jumps as Ebola patient given drug leaves hospital

Bloomberg

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. shares rose to their highest level in more than six years in Tokyo trading Monday after a French Ebola patient, who was given its Avigan drug with another experimental treatment, was sent home from the hospital.

The company’s shares rose 2.8 percent to close at ¥3,499.5, the highest level since July 2008. Fujifilm said last month that Avigan, its influenza drug, was being given to an Ebola patient at a French hospital along with another unidentified medicine.

With no approved Ebola therapies, doctors and international agencies have been forced to test experimental treatments to fight the deadly virus that has killed thousands in West Africa.

The French nurse, a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders who was contaminated while on a mission in Liberia, has recovered and left the hospital, the French health ministry said in a statement.

Fujifilm spokesman Takao Aoki confirmed the ministry statement but declined to comment on the patient’s dosage.

Fujifilm, in a statement issued after the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed, said its drug has also been given to a Ugandan who helped with aid work in Sierra Leone and was infected with Ebola. That patient was transferred to a hospital in Frankfurt for treatment and was given the drug on Saturday.

The governments of France and Guinea are also considering running a mid-size clinical trial of the drug in Guinea and have asked Fujifilm to cooperate, the company said.

Fujifilm is also receiving requests to supply the drug to other governments and agencies, it said.

Two U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, received Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.’s experimental drug ZMapp earlier this year and recovered from the virus. Doctors say they can’t definitively credit the drug with the patients’ survival, as some people recover from the infection and Brantly and Writebol also received supportive care.

The U.S. National Institute of Health is working on an Ebola vaccine, and other treatments are in development by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp., BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sarepta Therapeutics Inc.

The Fujifilm drug, also called Favipiravir, is in the final stages of human studies in the United States as a treatment for flu. The company last month said it has enough stock for 20,000 Ebola patients.

The medicine won Japanese approval in March for government stockpiling for pandemic flu. Fujifilm is running a trial and is in discussion with Japanese regulators to get marketing approval to sell it for seasonal influenza, the company said in July.