Gilead Sciences Inc. raised the stakes on a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The California-based biopharmaceutical drug maker said a trial of remdesivir showed at least 50 percent of patients treated with a five-day dose saw improvement and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks, the company announced Wednesday (April 29).
“Unlike traditional drug development, we are attempting to evaluate an investigational agent alongside an evolving global pandemic,” said Dr. Merdad Parsey, Gilead’s chief medical officer, in statement.
The study showed that patients receiving a 10-day treatment of remdesivir achieved similar improvement in clinical status compared with those taking a five-day treatment, the company said.
“These study results complement data from the placebo-controlled study of remdesivir conducted by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and help to determine the optimal duration of treatment with remdesivir,” Parsey said.
NIAID said Wednesday patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung ailments who received remdesivir recovered 31 percent faster than similar patients who received a placebo, according to a preliminary data analysis from a trial of 1,063 patients, which began on February 21. The median time to recover was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared with 15 days for those who received a placebo, NIAD reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House health advisor, said NIAID’s remdesivir drug trial showed “quite good news” and that the drug would set a new standard of care for COVID-19 patients.
But MarketWatch.com reported a separate study also released on Wednesday that found the drug failed to improve patients suffering from COVID-19 in China.
The company’s stock fell last week, the news service reported, after multiple reports cited a document that was accidentally published by the World Health Organization (WHO). It said the drug did not improve COVID-19 patients’ conditions or reduce the presence of the coronavirus in the bloodstream in a clinical trial in China.
Gilead acknowledged remdesivir is not approved anywhere and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19.
Health officials have said a vaccine to prevent the disease could take up to 18 months, but drug companies are racing to have something ready by September.
COVID-19 has infected more than 3 million people worldwide and killed at least 217,569 as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.
At the close on Wednesday, shares of Gilead closed at $83.14 Wednesday, up by nearly 6 percent.
Last month, reports predicted recovery from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic could take anywhere from 4.5 months to 7.5 months.