Fujifilm shares soar on coronavirus hopes


Shares in Fujifilm rocketed by 15% this week after reports that an influenza medicine it makes also works against Covid-19. The Japanese group is also making a major investment in UK biotech.

Fujifilm: drug originally created for influenza could be beneficial against Covid-19
Fujifilm: drug originally created for influenza could be beneficial against Covid-19

Nikkei Asian Review reported that the director of the Chinese science ministry had said that the influenza drug Avigan, developed by Fujifilm healthcare subsidiary Toyama Chemical Co, was "clearly effective" in the treatment of Covid-19. 

According to the report, clinical trials are underway in China and coronavirus patients in Japan have been given the drug since February. 

Last Friday (13 March) Fujifilm shares had slipped to ¥4,299 (£33.60) but then rose to ¥4,546 by Tuesday and jumped to ¥5,238 on Wednesday, reaching the daily permissible high as a result.  

Separately, Fujifilm is set to invest £72m in the expansion of its UK-based biotechnology site in order to bring further support to its biopharmaceutical clients. The site in Stockton-on-Tees will see the installation of two new 2,000-litre fermenters and a modular purification suite in order to respond to increased demand for microbial expressed therapies.

A prospective timeline will see the new kit operational from 2022 and will triple subsidiary Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ (FDB) UK capacity for microbial production.

FDB chief operating officer Paul Found said: “For more than 30 years FDB has been a leader in microbial production.

“From our Paveway expression technology to our commercial capabilities, we are well suited to support customers at all stages of the product development process.

“This expansion will cement our position as the leading microbial CDMO [contract manufacturing].”

Fujifilm is aiming to achieve sales of around £787.5m in its bio CDMO business by 2021 while maintaining its commitment to support the delivery of wide variety of therapies including recombinant proteins, antibodies, hormones, viral vectors and vaccines.

The Japan-headquartered international manufacturer clocked in total sales of £19bn for the financial year ending March 2019, with accounts for 2019/20 due shortly. It concluded its calendar year with the end of a long-running dispute with Xerox which will now lead to the dissolution of its 60-year-old joint venture Fuji Xerox.

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