China has already completed clinical trials on favipiravir, the main ingredient in Avigan, the country’s ministry of science and technology said last month.
Two trials in the country found the drug shortened recovery time for patients, but Fujifilm was not involved in those programs.
Avigan is currently approved for manufacture and sale in Japan as an antiviral drug for flu.
“It is expected that Avigan may potentially have an antiviral effect on the new coronavirus” given the way it works on the flu virus, Fujifilm said in a statement announcing the trial.
Researchers and companies around the world are racing to find a cure for the new coronavirus, with the focus on existing medicines such as anti-malaria and anti-HIV drugs.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat malaria have shown early promise against the COVID-19 illness in early studies in France and China.
But experts urge caution until bigger trials demonstrate their effectiveness.
Medical researchers around the world are also working to find a vaccine for the virus, which has so far killed more than 42,000 people globally.