Researchers on Wednesday released some promising news about drug that could potentially be used to treat coronavirus.
Evidence shows that the experimental drug remdesivir may help patients recover several days more quickly from the infection.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, about making it publicly available soon.
“As part of the FDA’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in … discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in statement.
A government-funded study discovered that people who took remdesivir recovered faster than patients who did not.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is optimistic about the results.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday. “What [the clinical trial] has proven is that a drug can block this virus. This drug happens to be blocking an enzyme that the virus uses.”
Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for #COVID19, however, there are over 70 active clinical trials. There is great interest in using master protocols to simultaneously test multiple products to get answers as quickly as possible.
— Dr. Janet Woodcock (@DrWoodcockFDA) April 27, 2020
Results from the preliminary trial show the drug shifted recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days.
That is similar to the effect that the influenza drug Tamiflu has on helping people get over the flu.
“Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is very important proof of concept,” Fauci said about remdesivir. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”
Remdesivir also may reduce the likelihood that patients will die.
“Results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group,” the NIAID said.
Fauci, who has led NIAID for the past 36 years, compared the new findings to the 1986 discovery that the anti-retroviral drug azidothymidine, or AZT, could suppress the HIV virus in patients with AIDS.
That drug, which later became known as Retrovir, allowed many HIV patients to turn what was considered a terminal illness into a manageable chronic health condition.
FDA approval of remdesivir is expected shortly.