Covid-19 Patients Recovering Quickly After Getting Experimental Drug Remdesivir: Report

Covid-19 patients who are getting an experimental drug called remdesivir have been recovering quickly, with most going home in days, STAT News reported Thursday after it obtained a video of a conversation about the trial.

The patients taking part in a clinical trial of the drug have all had severe respiratory symptoms and fever, but were able to leave the hospital after less than a week of treatment, STAT quoted the doctor leading the trial as saying.

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” Dr. Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago who is leading the clinical trial, said in the video.

Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in lab tests. The entire world has been waiting for results from Gilead’s clinical trials, and positive results would likely lead to fast approvals by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. If safe and effective, it could become the first approved treatment against the disease.

The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with Covid-19 into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir.

The “anecdotal data … looks promising on the surface and continues to support some potential for the drug to be active in certain COVID-19 patients,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams said in a research note. “Nonetheless, there are major limitations to contextualizing and interpreting this data.”

Interest in Gilead’s drug amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been high. The New England Journal of Medicine last week published an analysis indicating that over two-thirds of a small group of severely ill COVID-19 patients saw their condition improve after treatment with remdesivir.

The paper’s author called the findings “hopeful,” but cautioned it is difficult to interpret the results since they do not include comparison to a control group, as would be the case in a randomized clinical trial.

In addition, the patient numbers were small, the details being disclosed are limited, and the follow-up time was relatively short.

The U.S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in February began an 800-patient trial that randomly assigns patients to treatment with either remdesivir or with a placebo to enable a controlled comparison of outcomes. Those results are not expected until after Gilead’s trial reads out.

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