The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

UNOPS plans to support the government of Japan with medicine distribution

UNOPS to quickly procure and safely deliver supplies of anti-influenza medicine Avigan on behalf of Japan.

In order to conduct clinical trials of potential COVID-19 treatments, a number of countries have expressed interest in receiving supplies of the anti-influenza medicine called favipiravir, known commercially as Avigan, from manufacturers in Japan.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, no pharmaceutical product has yet been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. 

However, a number of medicines have been suggested as potential treatments, many of which are now being or will soon be studied in clinical trials

To ensure rapid delivery to countries interested in acquiring supplies of favipiravir for clinical trials, the government of Japan has asked UNOPS to provide two services.

Based on requests to Japan from beneficiary governments, UNOPS has been asked to manage the ongoing procurement of favipiravir tablets from a supplier pre-selected by Japan. In addition to this activity, UNOPS has also been asked to safely transport favipiravir tablets to requesting countries.

Receiving governments will be responsible for customs clearances and any domestic delivery of supplies. Japan is providing $1 million in funding to establish this mechanism.

Any UNOPS support to procure and transport favipiravir does not in any way imply any endorsement of favipiravir as a treatment. Favipiravir should only be used in accordance with WHO guidance on clinical trials, as well as the guidance to be provided by Japan, and in line with the beneficiary country’s own national legal frameworks.

“We will work with interested countries to expand clinical research on Avigan internationally,” said Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at a press conference on Tuesday, 7 April.

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