Gilead says clinical trials show coronavirus patients responding to antiviral drug

Gilead Sciences.
(Image credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Gilead Sciences on Wednesday revealed some promising news about remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has been touted as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

The company said its own trial, as well one overseen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, met its goals, with coronavirus patients reportedly responding well to the drug, reports CNBC. The data from the NIAID is still under wraps, though it's expected to be released at an upcoming briefing.

As for Gilead's trial, which involved 397 patients with severe COVID-19 cases, at least 50 percent of patients treated with a 5-day dosage of remdesivir improved and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks. The overall mortality rate of the study was 7 percent, and relatively few patients developed bad side effects from the drug.

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There are caveats, of course. The trial wasn't evaluated against a control group of patients who didn't receive the drug. It's also unclear if the high survival and improvement rates may have been natural recoveries from less severe cases. Still, the news is considered encouraging, albeit far from a "home run," as former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said after seeing the results. He also reiterated that even if remdesivir is effective, it's a treatment, not a cure.

The NIAID study is considered the most important test, Stat News reports, so the results will be watched closely. Read more at Stat News and CNBC.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.