Gilead Sciences, Inc. said Wednesday it was “aware of positive data” from a federal trial of the experimental drug remdesivir in treating COVID-19 patients, resulting in a trading halt for Gilead’s stock—and further details are expected to be announced later in the day.
Remdesivir is among many treatments being tested against COVID-19, and has shown to prevent infection and reduce the severity of symptoms in MERS and SARS, two other coronaviruses; the trial was conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We understand that the trial has met its primary endpoint and that NIAD will provide detailed information at an upcoming briefing,” Gilead wrote in a press release.
In a separate Wednesday press release, Gilead announced initial results from its own remdesivir study on giving patients five days of the drug versus 10 days of the drug, and found outcomes were about the same.
After Gilead analyzed the data in their study, they found that patients in the study who received remdesivir within 10 days of symptom onset had improved outcomes compared with those treated after more than 10 days of symptoms.
Gilead noted that remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally, and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19.
Trades of Gilead stock were halted before markets opened Wednesday, while stocks spiked on the news: the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 showed gains of over 2%, while the NASDAQ was up over 3%.
“Multiple concurrent studies are helping inform whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 and how to best utilize the drug,” said Gilead Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey in a statement. “This is particularly important in the setting of a pandemic, to help hospitals and healthcare workers treat more patients in urgent need of care.”
Everyday life across the world has been halted by the spread of coronavirus, for which there is no known treatment or vaccine. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that having a treatment for COVID-19 would be profound on the pandemic’s global impact. Medical experts say that a vaccine is, at minimum, 12 to 18 months away. In a separate trial, Gilead said April 10 that in a small study of remdesivir in severely ill COVID-19 patients, the majority saw symptom improvement when treated with the drug. Another Gilead remdesivir trial in China was stopped, however, after enrolling new patients became too challenging due to a decrease in cases and results indicated statistically insignificant differences between patients who died after taking remdesivir after one month versus patients in the control group.
What to watch for
Results from Gilead’s two randomized, controlled trials of remdesivir. One is in progress at 180 sites across the world. The second study expects to report initial findings from the first 600 patients in May.
Company says drug proved effective against virus in US study (Associated Press)