Japan's Shionogi signs government supply pact for pill to fight COVID

A handout video grab image shows the production process of Shionogi & Co Ltd's ongoing clinical trial of pills, known as S-217622, for the oral coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment, in this undated and unlocated images released by Shionogi & Co Ltd and obtained by Reuters on February 7, 2022. Shionogi & Co Ltd/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO, March 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Shionogi & Co (4507.T) has signed a basic agreement with the government to supply an oral COVID-19 treatment it is now developing, the firm said on Friday.

The government is considering buying a million doses of the drug pending regulatory approval, the company added in a statement.

Shares of the company surged as much as 3.9% on the news, versus a decline of 0.3% in Tokyo's benchmark index.

Last month Shionogi sought approval of the pill, a protease inhibitor known as S-217622 that would become Japan's third antiviral approved for coronavirus patients, following those developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Merck & Co (MRK.N). read more

The company has global aspirations for the pill, saying last week it would launch a Phase III trial worldwide with U.S. government support. Chief Executive Isao Teshirogi has said production could reach 10 million doses a year. read more

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Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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