✦ Recent developments related to Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug remdesivir indicate that it could be a promising treatment for COVID-19. In a New England Journal of Medicine paper published on April 10, researchers reported that clinical improvement was observed in 36 out of 53 (or 68%) of COVID-19 patients who were given remdesivir on a compassionate-use basis. Then on April 16, Stat published an article offering an early look at results from Gilead’s two Phase III clinical trials on remdesivir, which it conducted on 125 COVID-19 patients being treated at the University of Chicago Medical Center. The news outlet reported that the hospital saw rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms among patients treated with the drug, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week. View the NEJM paper at https://bit.ly/2KplOmd and the Stat article at https://bit.ly/3br9rSP.
✦ Novartis AG said on April 20 that the FDA will allow it to proceed with a Phase III clinical trial in which it will test the anti- malarial drug hydroxychloroquine on hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis, will supply hydroxychloroquine for the clinical trial, which the Swiss drugmaker said will be “conducted at more than a dozen sites in the United States” and begin enrolling patients within the next few weeks. Demand for hydroxychloroquine and its more potent cousin, chloroquine, surged after President Donald Trump touted early evidence that it could be a promising treatment for COVID-19, causing major PBMs to restrict dispensing such drugs to prevent stockpiling for off-label uses (RDB 4/9/20, p. 1). Meanwhile, a recent study conducted on 368 COVID-19 patients at U.S. veterans hospitals “found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin [an antibiotic], reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation” for those patients. Read more at https://bit.ly/3eFkPMN and https://bit.ly/3bx5eg6