The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Friday that it’s testing Gilead Sciences' (GILD) - Get Report Covid-19 treatment drug remdesivir together with Eli Lilly’s (LLY) - Get Report rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant to see if the combination works better than remdesivir alone.
Last week, The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for remdesivir, as it has shown evidence of shortening recovery periods for patients seriously stricken with the coronavirus.
As for the new trial, the NIAID expects it to include 1,000 patients at more than 100 treatment centers.
“We now have solid data showing that remdesivir diminishes to a modest degree the time to recovery for people hospitalized with Covid-19,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, said in a statement.
The new trial “will examine if adding an anti-inflammatory agent to the remdesivir regimen can provide additional benefit for patients, including improving mortality outcomes,” he said.
Baricitinib, a product licensed to Lilly by Incyte (INCY) - Get Report and marketed under the brand name Olumiant, is approved in more than 65 countries, including the U.S., as a treatment for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis.
Some people with Covid-19 experience acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which inflammation of the lungs leads to shortness of breath and rapid breathing. Baricitinib, taken orally, inhibits cytokine signaling in the body that plays a role in causing inflammatory responses, the NIAID said.
“The putative benefit of baricitinib for Covid-19 has been described in a case series of critically ill patients who recovered from Covid-19.”
Gilead closed at $77.49 Friday, down 0.15%, and Lilly at $153.42, up 0.29%.