University of Chicago Medicine researchers said they saw “rapid recoveries” in 125 COVID-19 patients taking Gilead Sciences Inc.’s experimental drug remdesivir as part of a clinical trial, according to a Thursday afternoon report.
There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the novel coronavirus which has sickened more than two million people world-wide and killed nearly 150,000 people, but remdesivir is considered a front-runner in the race to develop a treatment for COVID-19 infections that works. Though the findings reported by Stat are promising, they are not based on full clinical trial data from the company.
According to Stat, 125 people with COVID-19 receiving care at the University of Chicago are participating in two Phase 3 clinical trials conducted by Gilead; 113 of them have severe forms of the disease. Stat said it obtained a recorded video discussion about the trial among University of Chicago faculty members in which a physician said when some people start taking the drug, fevers come down and some come off ventilators.
One trial is evaluating remdesivir in 2,400 people with severe forms of the disease, the other is testing the drug in 1,600 patients who are moderately ill. Both trials are being conducted at multiple sites around the world. According to ClinicalTrials.gov, both trials began in March and are expected to conclude in May.
In a statement to Stat News on Thursday, Gilead said: “What we can say at this stage is that we look forward to data from ongoing studies becoming available.”
It has been a dramatic week for Gilead’s stock, starting with the release last Friday of a small clinical data set showcasing that 68% of 53 hospitalized patients who had received remdesivir on a compassionate-use basis showed clinical improvement. At that time, a J.P. Morgan analyst called the data “a promising first look” but warned the results “need to be kept in context.”
On Wednesday, shares tumbled after a clinical-trial listing was updated to say Chinese authorities had stopped recruiting for a remdesivir clinical trial in severely ill COVID-19 patients there. Shares rose again on a Bloomberg News report that Gilead is considering taking a stake in Arcus Biosciences Inc. RCUS, +89.34%.
Year-to-date, Gilead’s stock has gained 17.8%, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.58% is down 13.8%.