3,000 Participants Added to Trials for Experimental COVID-19 Treatment

April 10, 2020 Updated: April 10, 2020

Gilead Sciences has increased the number of patients involved in two trials for its experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir.

A trial looking at remdesivir in patients with severe cases of COVID-19 upped enrollment from 400 to 2,400 and added some patients on ventilators. Another trial looking at remdesivir in patients with moderate COVID-19 cases increased enrollment from 600 to 1,600.

Both trials, which started in March, are expected to deliver results by May.

Remdesivir was used in the treatment of the first American patient with the virus, according to a case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The patient’s condition improved a day after receiving the drug intravenously. Remdesivir has also shown success treating a different coronavirus, MERS, in monkeys, and has shown efficacy against the Ebola and Nipah viruses in monkeys.

Researchers, though, said in the study that randomized controlled trials are needed “to determine the safety and efficacy of remdesivir and any other investigational agents for treatment of patients with 2019-nCoV infection.”

A woman arrives by ambulance
A woman arrives by ambulance to Wyckoff Hospital in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in New York on April 5, 2020. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)

Remdesivir is not currently approved for use anywhere in the world. Several other studies are examining its effectiveness against COVID-19, including a worldwide study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said over the weekend that the company was donating 1.5 million doses of remdesivir for use in trials and for patients who can’t take part in trials.

“The programs enable hospitals or physicians to apply for emergency use of remdesivir for multiple severely ill patients at a time,” he wrote in an update posted on the company’s website.

Other existing treatments being tested against COVID-19 include hydroxychloroquine, Kevzara, and zithromax.

COVID-19 causes symptoms similar to the flu in some patients. About one in five patients require hospital care, according to early data, and a subset of those are admitted to intensive care units.

The new illness primarily affects the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber