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Gilead says remdesivir coronavirus treatment reduces risk of death in severely sick patients

A lab technician inspects filled vials of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, U.S. March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020.

Gilead Sciences Inc | Reuters

Gilead Sciences published new data Friday on its antiviral drug remdesivir that shows it reduced the risk of death for severely sick coronavirus patients by 62% compared with standard care alone.

The company said its analysis also found that remdesivir treatment was associated with “significantly improved clinical recovery.” The findings are being presented at the Virtual Covid-19 Conference as part of the 23rd International AIDS Conference, the company said.

Shares of Gilead rose more than 2% in premarket trading Friday on the news. 

Gilead said it analyzed data from 312 patients enrolled in its phase three trial and compared it with that of 818 patients in “a real-world retrospective cohort” with similar characteristics and disease severity who received standard care alone during the same time period as the phase three trial.

“While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a realworld setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data, adding to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic,” Dr. Susan Olender of Columbia University Irving Medical Center said in a statement.

The findings show that 7.6% of patients treated with remdesivir died compared with 12.5% of patients in the analysis who did not receive remdesivir treatment. The analysis also found that 74.4% of patients who received treatment with remdesivir recovered by day 14 compared with 59% of patients who received standard care alone. 

Gilead said its findings warrant more study in additional trials.

“We are working to broaden our understanding of the full utility of remdesivir,”  Gilead’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merdad Parsey said in a statement. “To address the urgency of the continuing pandemic, we are sharing data with the research community as quickly as possible with the goal of providing transparent and timely updates on new developments with remdesivir.”

In late April, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released preliminary results from its own study of remdesivir that showed patients who took remdesivir usually recovered after 11 days, four days faster than those who didn’t take the drug. However, the study did not find any statistically significant reduction in the risk of death among patients treated with remdesivir.

NIAID’s findings led the Food and Drug Administration to issue an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, allowing doctors to use the drug on hospitalized Covid-19 patients. However, the drug has not undergone the same level of review as fully FDA-authorized drugs. There are still no FDA-authorized drugs to treat Covid-19.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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