Remdesivir drug shows promise against COVID-19

Remdesivir drug shows promise against COVID-19

New York: A potential drug from pharmaceutical major Gilead Sciences has shown tremendous promise in an ongoing clinical trial at the University of Chicago Medical Center where 36 of 53 severe COVID-19 patients who were treated with anti-viral medicine remdesivir have shown clinical improvement.

According to a report in The STAT, the researchers saw rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week.

Gilead’s shares jumped more than 15 per cent in after-hours trading and Dow futures surged more than 800 points on Thursday following the report.

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital, was quoted as saying.

Gilead said in a statement: “What we can say at this stage is that we look forward to data from ongoing studies becoming available”.

Gilead’s severe Covid-19 study includes 2,400 participants from 152 different clinical trial sites all over the world.

Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences is one of several drugs being fast-tracked into trials by the World Health Organization, comparing potential treatments in hospitalised COVID-19 patients in a dozen countries, including Canada.

Treatment with Gilead Sciences’s experimental drug remdesivir led to clinical improvement in 68 per cent of 53 patients hospitalised with severe complications of COVID-19, another study said this week. The drug was provided on an individual compassionate use basis.

Nearly two thirds of patients in this cohort were on mechanical ventilation at baseline, including four patients also on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

Treatment with remdesivir resulted in an improvement in oxygen support class for 36 of patients over a median follow-up of 18 days from the first dose of remdesivir, according to the findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

More than half of patients on mechanical ventilation were extubated and nearly half of all patients were discharged from the hospital following treatment with remdesivir.

“Currently there is no proven treatment for COVID-19. We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” said Jonathan D. Grein, Director of Hospital Epidemiology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and lead author of the journal article.

Since January 25, 2020, Gilead has been providing emergency access to remdesivir for qualifying patients with severe complications of COVID-19 who are unable to enroll in ongoing clinical trials.

Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally.