Firm to resume production of ingredient for Avigan

A Japanese chemical manufacturer says it will resume production later this week of an organic compound needed to produce a drug for treating coronavirus patients.

Tokyo-based Denka announced on Wednesday that its Omi Plant in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, will resume production of diethyl malonate, a key ingredient for the anti-flu drug Avigan, on May 16.

The Japanese government aims to secure a sufficient supply of the drug for 2 million people within the fiscal year ending March 2021. Securing a stable supply of the compound, mostly dependent on imports from China, had been a problem.

Denka is the only manufacturer in Japan capable of producing diethyl malonate, but it suspended production of the chemical in April 2017.

Denka has been preparing to resume production in response to the government's request to secure a stable supply chain.

The company plans to deliver a sufficient quantity of the ingredient by the end of June to produce Avigan for 2 million people.

A senior executive of Denka, Imai Toshio, says global supply and demand for diethyl malonate is tightening so securing a fully domestic supply chain is important.