Numerous coronavirus patients around the world have volunteered to participate in the experimental study of a drug against the disease.
There has been so much interest in the drug remdesivir that the United States National Institutes of Health has expanded its study, which almost reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The manufacturing company, Gilead Sciences, is rapidly stepping up its own experiments.
“I would enroll my family in one of those experiments, without thinking” if necessary, said Dr. Libby Hohmann of Massachusetts General Hospital.RELATED
The fact that there is no approved drug against COVID-19 so far “is somewhat frightening,” he added.
In most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. In some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, and even death. Most people recover.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, as of Monday there were some 1.29 million infected people worldwide and almost 71,000 dead.
Remdesivir is administered intravenously. Its composition allows it to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.
In animal experiments with respiratory diseases SARS and MERS, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced symptoms as long as it was administered at an early stage of the disease. Its use is more advanced than other therapies in the experimental process, with which it could eventually be approved as a therapy against coronavirus.
Gilead has already administered remdesivir to more than 1,700 patients in carefully selected emergencies, but its success will depend on further studies on its effectiveness and safety, Dan O’Day, chief executive of the pharmaceutical company, wrote in a recent public letter.
“Many people have written to Gilead to ask for remdesivir for family or friends. I can imagine how difficult it is to be in that situation,” he wrote.
“We are acting with an ethical and responsible strategy,” he added.
In another letter on Saturday, O’Day wrote that the company has 1.5 million doses, which implies more than 140,000 treatments depending on the duration of each treatment. For now the company is offering the drug for free and has set a goal of producing enough for 500,000 treatments by October and more than a million by the end of the year.
Gilead submitted remdesivir for two studies in China, the results of which are due by the end of the month. In addition, he initiated two studies in hospitalized patients in the United States, Asia, Europe, and other regions.
“There is so much anxiety that patients are extremely interested,” and none of those who have received the possibility have rejected it, said Dr. Arun Sanyal, study leader at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.