China approves Genuine Biotech’s HIV drug for COVID patients

BEIJING, July 25 (Reuters) – China on Monday granted conditional approval to domestic firm Genuine Biotech’s Azvudine pill to treat certain adult patients with COVID-19, adding another oral treatment option for the coronavirus.

The availability of effective COVID vaccines and treatments is critical to laying the groundwork for China̵[ads1]7;s potential pivot from its “dynamic zero COVID” policy, which aims to eliminate every outbreak – no matter how small – and relies on mass testing and strict quarantine.

The Azvudine tablet, which China approved last July to treat certain HIV-1 virus infections, has been given a conditional green light to treat adult patients with “normal type” COVID, the National Medical Products Administration said in a statement.

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“Normal type” COVID is a term China uses to refer to coronavirus infections in which there are signs of pneumonia, but the patients have not reached a severe stage.

In February, China allowed the use of Pfizer’s oral treatment Paxlovid in adults with mild to moderate COVID and a high risk of developing a severe condition. In 2020, it approved the use of Lianhuaqingwen capsules, a traditional Chinese medicine-style formula, to relieve symptoms of COVID such as fever and cough.

In a late-stage clinical trial, 40.4% of patients taking Azvudine showed improvement in symptoms seven days after first taking the drug, compared with 10.9% in the control group, Genuine Biotech of Henan Province said in a statement earlier this month, without giving detailed readings.

Other Chinese companies developing potential oral COVID treatments include Shanghai Junshi Biosciences ( 688180.SS ) and Kintor Pharmaceutical ( 9939.HK ).

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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