Experimental drug improves the condition of COVID-19 patients in US study

Update: Sunday 12th April 2020


The New England Journal of Medicine published a report on Friday that suggests ‘remdesivir’, developed by Gilead Science Inc., has improved the condition of two-thirds of severely ill COVID-19 patients. Of the 61 patients who received a dose of the experimental drug, 36 patients were found, after 18 days, to have less reliance on severe oxygen-support. The drug’s promise in fighting SARS-CoV-2, the precursor to COVID-19, has been demonstrated in previous vitro testing. So, remdesivir, with its reputation for prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy in non-clinical models of coronaviruses, makes the drug an ideal candidate for a potential solution to the current crisis.


While these results are promising, the authors of the report caution against putting all our eggs in this one basket. Due to the limited size of the trial and no comparisons with a control group provided, there is a considerable amount of difficulty in determining the real impact of the drug on patients. In a statement released by Gilead, lead author Jonathan Grein warns:


“We cannot draw definitive conclusions from [this] data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful.”

This trial is part of a wider series of clinical studies being undertaken elsewhere in the US and in China. It’s reported that results from the Chinese study look to be revealed later this month, with a trial run by the U.S National Institute of Health now past its initial patient recruitment stage. In addition, Gilead is currently sponsoring two additional drug trials that we can expect results from very soon.


This news comes only days after a team at Oxford University announced their confidence in finding a COVID-19 treatment by September of this year. Find out more about this story, here; and check out our comprehensive guide to clinical research that is sure to explain all the industry jargon being thrown around at the moment.


While remdesivir still has a lengthy testing procedure ahead, what we can take from these results is exactly what Dr. Grein suggests in his report: hope. Gilead’s clinical studies are only a few of the thousands of clinical trials being carried out at the moment all over the world to fight COVID-19. If other clinical trials see even a jot of Gilead’s success, we can be assured that a vaccine is on its way.



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  • Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with us here, and check out our archives for all our top tips and tricks on running successful clinical trials in today's constantly changing industry.

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