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Israel, NZ give interim approval for sale of virus nasal spray, company says

(Corrects headline, nasal spray sale approved, not firm sale)

JERUSALEM/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Israel and New Zealand have given interim approval for the sale of biotech firm SaNOtize Research and Development’s Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) which could help prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the company said on Monday.

Manufacturing of NONS, under the brand name Enovid, has begun in Israel with SaNOtize’s partner Nextar Chempharma Solutions Ltd and it is expected to be on sale there this summer.

In New Zealand, SaNOtize has registered its nasal spray with the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, which permits the company to distribute and sell NONS over the counter immediately, the Vancouver-based company said.

However, New Zealand’s health ministry said it has not approved the product for use as an anti-viral nasal spray.

But the approval referred to by the company may relate to a notification made to the New Zealand Web-Assisted Notification Database (WAND) operated by Medsafe, where medical devices for supply in New Zealand are required to be notified. This is not an application or approval process, the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The presence of an entry on this database does not confirm or imply that the product meets the requirements of the Medicines Act 1981,” it said in a statement, adding that it would follow up with the company.

Last week, SaNOtize and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey, UK announced results of clinical trials showing that NONS was an effective antiviral treatment that could prevent the transmission of COVID-19, shorten its course, and reduce the severity of symptoms and damage in those already infected.

Chris Miller, SaNOtize’s chief science officer, said its formulation of Nitric Oxide for use in humans is designed to “kill viruses in the upper airways, preventing them from incubating and spreading to the lungs.”

(Story refiles to correct headline, nasal spray sale approved, not firm sale)

Reporting by Steven Scheer in Jerusalem and Praveen Menon in Wellington; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Michael Perry

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