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Japan offers unapproved drug to treat Ebola

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Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to carry an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014. To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicentre of the virus, evoking the "plague villages" of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world. REUTERS/2Tango (LIBERIA - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH DISASTER MILITARY) - RTR435UG

Japan would like to offer a drug to help treat the deadly Ebola virus before the World Health Organization officially rules on its use, the country's top government spokesman said on Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan has received inquiries from some countries on the influenza drug favipiravir, or T-705 as it is known in the developmental code.

"I am informed that medical professionals could make a request for T-705 in an emergency even before a decision (on approval) by the WHO. In that case, we would like to respond under certain criteria," he said.

Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp and U.S. partner MediVector are in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to submit an application to expand the use of favipiravir as a treatment for Ebola. 

Following Suga's comments, Fujifilm shares rose 4.0 percent, edging near a four-year peak hit earlier this month. They were the eighth most actively traded shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has killed more than 1,000 people and prompted the WHO to declare an international health emergency.