Japan plans to start the wide distribution of a domestically developed oral COVID-19 drug, Xocova, from next Monday, earlier than initially planned.
The Japanese government approved emergency authorization of Xocova on Tuesday. The first Japanese COVID-19 drug is made by pharmaceutical firm Shionogi. Xocova can be used to treat even mild symptoms.
Health Minister Kato Katsunobu told reporters on Friday that supplies for 1 million people were already on hand and preparations for distribution had progressed smoothly.
He said the government had initially planned to start providing the drug in early December but will move up the distribution date to next Monday.
Xocova will be delivered to about 2,900 medical facilities that will be listed on the websites of prefectural governments.
Experts have pointed out the challenge of achieving a balance between swift approval and confirming the drug's efficacy and safety. Kato said he wants to hold discussions on how to handle future emergency authorizations.