Gilead says remdesivir reduces risk of death in coronavirus patients

Gilead study says remdesivir reduces the risk of death in severely ill coronavirus patients by 62%

  • Gilead compared 312 severely ill coronavirus patients receiving remdesivir compared to 818 patients receiving standard of care 
  • Nearly 75% of those treated with remdesivir recovered compared to 59% not given the drug
  • Only 7.6% of remdesivir-treated patients died compared to 12.5% off those who received standard of care
  • A study by the NIH found that the antiviral reduced the length of stay in the hospital but not that it lowered death risk 

Gilead Sciences Inc announced on Friday that additional data from a late-stage study showed its antiviral remdesivir improved death rates as well the conditions of severely ill coronavirus patients.

The drug reduced fatality risks by about 62 percent and increased the odds of recovery by around 26 percent. 

Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 after the medicine was shown to shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Several countries have approved the use of the treatment in severe patients but there are concerns over supply of the drug, which is also being tested as an inhaled version.   

In a new study, nearly 75% of severely ill coronavirus patients treated with remdesivir recovered compared to 59% not given the drug. Pictured: Ampules of remdesivir for patients infected with coronavirus at the University hospital in Essen, Germany, June 3

Only 7.6% of remdesivir-treated patients died compared to 12.5% off those who received standard of care. Piictured: Healthcare workers move a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2

Gilead looked at data from 312 patients treated in its late-stage study and compared them to 818 severely ill patients ‘a real-world retrospective cohort.’

The 312-patient group was given either five-day or 10-day doses of remdesivir via IV while the 818-patient group received standard care.

By Day 14, 74.4 percent of those treated with remdesivir recovered compared to 59 percent not given the drug.

This means patients who received the antiviral were about 1.3 times more likely to see their conditions improve. 

Additionally, only 7.6 percent of remdesivir-treated patients died compared to 12.5 percent of those who received standard of care.

‘While not as vigorous as a randomized controlled trial, this analysis importantly draws from a real world setting and serves as an important adjunct to clinical trial data,’ Dr Susan Olender, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a statement. 

‘[It adds} to our collective understanding of this virus and reflecting the extraordinary pace of the ongoing pandemic.’ 

Upon news of the findings, Gilead’s shares rose two percent to $76.21 in early trading on Friday. 

The company says that additional trials are needed to back up these findings. 

‘We are working to broaden our understanding of the full utility of remdesivir,’ Dr Merdad Parsey, Gilead’s Chief Medical Officer, 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 April, the NIH released results from a study that found remdesivir helped patients recover after 11 days, four days faster than those who didn’t receive the drug.

However, this study didn’t find that it reduced the risk fo death. Regardless, the US Food and Drug Administration soon after issued emergency use authorization for hospitalized coronavirus patients 

Last week, the company announced it was priding the drug at $390 per vial, which comes out to about $2,340 per patient.  

Private insurance companies in the US, on the other hand, will be charged $520 per vial.

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