Cedars-Sinai: Possible coronavirus drug shows encouraging results

LOS ANGELES — The small trial of an experimental antiviral drug positioned as a potential treatment for COVID-19 has shown encouraging results, Cedars-Sinai officials announced.

According to an analysis co-authored by Dr. Jonathan Grein, the hospital’s director of epidemiology, improvement was observed in 68% of patients hospitalized with severe complications of COVID-19 who were treated with the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir.

Cedars-Sinai is among dozens of sites around the world participating in the clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

The experimental therapy was given to patients through a “compassionate use” program that allows providers access to treatments not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration when a patient has a life-threatening condition and no other options are available.

The analysis, published online by The New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated data from 53 patients in the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan who received at least one dose of remdesivir by March 7. The effort was led by Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company that makes the experimental drug.

The study shows:

— 68% of patients treated with remdesivir demonstrated an improvement in the level of oxygen support they needed over a median follow-up of 18 days from the first dose of the drug;

— of the 34 patients who had been intubated and required support from mechanical ventilators (breathing machines), 57% had their breathing tubes taken out;

— 47% of all patients were discharged from the hospital following treatment with remdesivir.

“Currently there is no proven treatment for COVID-19. We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” Grein said. “We look forward to the results of controlled clinical trials to potentially validate these findings.”

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