US drugmaker Pfizer said on Friday it has applied for Japanese government approval for its oral Covid-19 treatment.
The application is based on global Phase two and three trials that Japan was part of, Pfizer said in a statement.
With Covid-19 cases surging again, Japan is betting heavily on oral treatments to keep serious infections and deaths at bay.
Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, said last week he aimed to distribute the Pfizer pills next month after securing 2 million doses during a December call with Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla.
The government has already started distributing molnupiravir antiviral pills after agreeing to pay Merck & Co and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics about $1.2 billion for 1.6 million courses.
Japan’s Shionogi & Co is working on its own pill, with plans to supply 1 million doses this year.
The highly infectious Omicron variant is driving a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Japan recorded 18,859 new infections on Thursday, according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK, the most since September 2 2021.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara