Regeneron Launches US Trials for Coronavirus Treatment With France's Sanofi

Regeneron, along with France's Sanofi, will test Kevzara on patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms across sixteen U.S. cities.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals  (REGN) - Get Report said Monday that it will begin clinical trials of a drug aimed at patients suffering from severe coronavirus symptoms across sixteen U.S. cities. 

The trials, which will be conducted in partnership with French drugmaker Sanofi SA  (SNY) - Get Report, will start in New York, where the largest cluster of U.S. coronavirus cases have clustered, before expanding to cities around the country. Regeneron said its drug, Kevzara, could potentially become an important component in coronavirus treatment around the world. 

"To initiate this trial quickly, so that the results may inform evidence-based treatment of this ongoing pandemic, Regeneron and Sanofi have worked closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority " said Regeneron's chief scientific officer George D. Yancopoulo. "Data from China suggest that the IL-6 pathway may play an important role in the overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of patients with COVID-19." 

"Despite this encouraging finding, it's imperative to conduct a properly designed, randomized trial to understand the true impact," he added.

Regeneron shares were marked 1% higher in early trading Monday, compared to a 6.4% decline for the S&P 500, to change hands at $470.27 each.

Last week, Israel's Can-Fite Biopharama  (CANF) - Get Report its lead drug, Piclidenoson, could be used to those suffering from coronavirus symptoms following China's approval of Roche AG's rheumatoid arthritis treatment, Actemra, in patients with severe lung damage. 

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report is also studying the effectiveness of its antiviral remdesivir drug in China, with test results expected next month.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield told lawmakers on a House appropriations panel that remdesivir, Gilead's developing coronavirus treatment, was being used on compassionate grounds in Washington state.

Federal Food & Drug Administration rules allow patients to use unapproved drugs in life-threatening situations when all other options have been exhausted.

Last month, Gilead said that around 1,000 patients suffering from both moderate and severe coronavirus symptoms were given varying doses of remdesivir as part of a Phase 3 study after the World Health Organization said the drug may be the "only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy" in treating the rapidly-spreading disease.