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Fujifilm Holdings Corp. will start a clinical study of the antiviral drug Avigan in Kuwait in collaboration with an Indian partner, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The trial is expected to be conducted mainly by India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd. and will involve up to 1,000 people to assess the flu drug's effectiveness, the sources said.

Earlier this month, Fujifilm said it had granted exclusive rights to Dr. Reddy's to develop, produce and sell the drug as a potential COVID-19 treatment overseas along with Dubai-based Global Response Aid.

Avigan has been proposed as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., the subsidiary that developed Avigan, also called favipiravir, initially planned to conduct a clinical study involving 96 people in Japan from late March through June. But the trial proved statistically inconclusive after running out of patients, reportedly halting at 89.

Kuwait had logged over 58,200 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, while Japan had about 24,100, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

If effective data is collected from the Kuwait study, it can also be used in Japan, the sources said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hoped to see the homegrown drug approved for use on the coronavirus by the end of May but gave up after an interim report by Fujita Health University that month said it found Avigan was not effective against COVID-19.

Earlier this month, this university's testing team again said its study failed to clearly demonstrate the drug's effectiveness on COVID-19 patients in the early stages of the disease.

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