Health Canada Clears Appili Therapeutics for New Phase 3 Clinical Trial to Evaluate Avigan Tablets (Favipiravir) in the Prevention of COVID-19 in Exposed Individuals in the Community

Company signs agreement with CRO and files Phase 3 clinical trial protocol with U.S. FDA in advance of anticipated study initiation in the U.S.

Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study will include approximately 1,156 participants in the U.S. and Canada; Appili expects enrollment to begin early 2021

The ability to prevent outbreaks in the community setting with an antiviral oral tablet would provide substantial benefits over other approaches currently under study

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, November 24, 2020 – Appili Therapeutics Inc. (TSX: APLI; OTCQX: APLIF) (the “Company” or “Appili”), a biopharmaceutical company focused on anti-infective drug development, today announced initiation of its Phase 3 Post Exposure Prophylaxis for COVID-19 (PEPCO) study to evaluate Avigan® tablets (favipiravir) in the prevention of COVID-19. Health Canada has provided a ‘No Objection Letter (NOL)’ for Appili’s proposed study; the U.S. FDA accepted a submission of a protocol amendment to conduct the trial in the United States.

“Addressing infections and spread early in the community setting remains a particular unmet need for COVID-19, and that is the cornerstone of our clinical strategy,” said Dr. Armand Balboni, Chief Executive Officer, Appili Therapeutics. “Since Avigan comes in a pill form, it allows for easier administration than other approaches, which usually require injections or intravenous administration, and also enables patients to receive it early after exposure.”

The primary objective of the PEPCO study is to determine if the use of Avigan is safe and effective in preventing COVID 19 among vulnerable individuals who have had recent direct exposure to a confirmed COVID-19-infected person. Appili has contracted with CATO Research LLC, a third-party clinical research organization, to administer the trial in Canada and the United States. Appili expects to initiate enrollment and dosing before the end of 2021.

This is the second Phase 3 study Appili has announced to evaluate the utility of Avigan tablets against COVID-19 in the community setting. The other study also known as the PRESECO study, is evaluating Avigan for the treatment of adults with mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19. PRESECO’s objective is to determine if Avigan is safe and effective in shortening the time to clinical recovery, preventing progression to severe disease, and diminishing the period of infectiousness. In addition to the PEPCO and PRESECO studies, Appili is sponsoring a Phase 2 CONTROL study evaluating the use of Avigan to control outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canadian long-term care facilities, where the burden of severe disease and death is unusually high.

“Our clinical strategy focuses on determining when, and who, may benefit most from using Avigan to treat and prevent outbreaks of COVID-19. The PEPCO study aims at providing early intervention to those most vulnerable to severe infections, with the aim of controlling outbreaks in homes and outpatient facilities,” said Dr. Yoav Golan, Chief Medical Officer, Appili Therapeutics. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to advance this important study.”


About the PEPCO Study

PEPCO is a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized, multinational, Phase 3 clinical trial that will enroll approximately 1,156 participants through 47 medical centers (“sites”). Site investigators will oversee participant enrollment, intervention, and follow-up during the course of the study. Participants will be outpatients residing in assisted living facilities or their own private residences.

Researchers will be evaluating the safety and efficacy of Avigan in preventing the development of COVID-19 when given to asymptomatic individuals who had direct exposure (within 72 hours) to an infected person. Inclusion criteria focuses on vulnerable individuals who are at high risk of developing severe complications of COVID-19, including:

  • individuals 60 years of age or older regardless of having underlying comorbidities, or
  • individuals who are 18 years of age or older who have at least one significant underlying condition.

The PEPCO (preventative) and PRESECO (treatment) trials are designed to give researchers the option to accelerate enrollment by coordinating with infected individuals and those they may have exposed, wherein those who test positive for COVID-19 are enrolled into the PRESECO trial, and consenting associates with whom they’ve been in contact may be enrolled in the PEPCO study. The PEPCO and PRESECO studies will be part of the dataset for the recently announced consortium to develop and distribute Avigan® tablets globally in COVID-19 indications. As part of that agreement, Appili is focused initially on clinical development in the United States and Canada. Appili may expand these trials into other countries severely affected by COVID, including those in Central and South America and the European Union.


About Avigan® (Favipiravir)

Avigan® is a broad-spectrum antiviral in oral tablet form developed by FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. (FFTC) and approved in Japan as a treatment and stockpile countermeasure for pandemic influenza. Following promising clinical studies, Russia and India recently approved favipiravir-based antiviral medications for the emergency treatment of COVID-19.[i] [ii]FFTC recently announced positive Phase 3 data in the use of Avigan in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Unlike most other interventions that researchers are evaluating in COVID-19, Avigan has already been thoroughly studied in human trials and has a known safety profile, with over 3,000 subjects receiving at least one dose of the drug. There is also an established manufacturing process in place that can be used to ramp up supply, should the drug receive regulatory approvals in additional indications. Avigan’s oral tablet form is shelf-stable and may provide advantages in the community setting over other COVID-19 interventions, which often require temperature-controlled storage and/or injection or intravenous administration.

Appili has joined a consortium of companies, including Dr. Reddy’s Labs, Global Response Aid, and FFTC, for the worldwide development and distribution of Avigan tablets for the potential treatment and prevention of COVID-19 (excluding Japan, China, and Russia.) The purpose of this consortium is to ensure that Avigan is thoroughly evaluated in rigorous clinical studies and, if it receives the proper regulatory approvals, has the infrastructure in place to support worldwide distribution.


About Appili Therapeutics

Appili Therapeutics is an infectious disease biopharmaceutical company that is purposefully built, portfolio-driven, and people-focused in fulfilling its mission of solving life-threatening infections. By systematically identifying urgent infections with unmet needs, Appili’s goal is to strategically develop a pipeline of novel therapies to prevent deaths and improve lives. As part of a global consortium, Appili is sponsoring late-stage clinical trials evaluating the antiviral Avigan (favipiravir) for the worldwide treatment and prevention of COVID-19. In addition, Appili is advancing a diverse range of anti-infectives, including a broad-spectrum antifungal, a vaccine candidate to eliminate a serious biological weapon threat, and two novel antibiotic programs. Led by a proven management team, Appili is at the epicenter of the global fight against infection. For more information, visit


Forward looking statements

This news release contains “forward-looking statements,” which reflect the current expectations of the Company’s management for future growth, results of operations, performance and business prospects and opportunities, including statements with respect to: the design, scope, parameters and timeline of the proposed Avigan® (favipiravir) clinical trials and the likelihood that such clinical trials will be initiated or consummated on the terms and timeline provided herein or at all; the potential use of Avigan® (favipiravir) for the treatment of COVID-19 (including as an early treatment of COVID-19 to control disease progression and limit virus spread); and the development, manufacturing and commercialization plans with respect to Avigan® (favipiravir). Wherever possible, words such as “may,” “would,” “could, “ “should,” “will,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “plan,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “potential for” and similar expressions have been used to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements contained in this press release are provided in reliance on certain assumptions, including with respect to: securing all requisite required approvals and funding for the applicable clinical trials; finalizing mutually acceptable clinical trial agreement and related agreements with the applicable clinical research organizations relating to the applicable clinical trials; site and patient enrolment; other expectations and assumptions concerning the proposed clinical trials (including with respect to potential outcomes and benefits); and the ability of the parties to successfully develop, manufacture and commercialize favipiravir for the treatment of COVID-19 following successful completion of the requisite clinical trials and receipt of all requisite regulatory and other approvals. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, the Company cannot give assurance that these expectations will prove to have been correct.

Forward-looking statements involve significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including, without limitation, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; known and unknown risks and liabilities relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; risks relating to the inability of Appili to initiate or complete all requisite clinical trials (including risks relating to the outcome thereof) and to secure all required funding and approvals relating thereto; risks relating to the development, manufacturing and commercialization of Avigan® (favipiravir) in Canada, the U.S and other jurisdictions; unforeseen events, developments, or factors causing any of the aforesaid expectations and assumptions not to be correct; and the other risk factors listed in the annual information form of the Company dated June 24, 2020 and the other filings made by the Company with the Canadian securities’ regulatory authorities (which may be viewed at Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements prove incorrect, actual results, performance or achievements may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this news release. These factors should be considered carefully, and prospective investors should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to revise forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as required by law.

The Company is not making any express or implied claims that it has the ability to eliminate, cure or contain the COVID-19 (or SARS-2 coronavirus) at this time.


Media Contacts


Canadian Media
Chantal Allan
Sam Brown Inc.
T: 613-319-4384 (CAN)
T: 805-242-3080 (U.S.)


US/Trade Media
Andrea Cohen
Sam Brown Inc.
T: 917-209-7163


Investor Relations Contact
Kimberly Stephens, CFO
Appili Therapeutics Inc.


[i] RDIF and ChemRar announce first interim results of clinical trials of Favipiravir drug’s effectiveness in coronavirus therapy

[ii] Glenmark Becomes the First Pharmaceutical Company in India to Receive Regulatory Approval for Oral Antiviral Favipiravir, for the Treatment of Mild to Moderate COVID-19