Sanofi Arthritis Drug Fails as Possible Coronavirus Treatment

Kevzara didn't significantly shorten patients’ hospital stays in a study involving 420 people, Sanofi says.
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French drugmaker Sanofi  (SNY) - Get Report said Tuesday that the rheumatoid arthritis medicine Kevzara failed to work as a coronavirus treatment in a global Phase 3 trial.

Shares of the Paris-based company were off slightly to $50.33.

Kevzara didn't significantly shorten patients’ hospital stays in a study involving 420 people, Sanofi said in a statement. Patients were about as likely to develop severe infections such as pneumonia and die on Kevzara as they were on a placebo.

Sanofi said the time to discharge was shortened by tow to three days in the patients treated with Kevzara within the first two weeks of treatment, but this was "statistically non-significant." 

Although this trial did not yield the results we hoped for, we are proud of the work that was achieved by the team to further our understanding of the potential use of Kevzara for the treatment of Covid-19, said Dr. John Reed, global head of research and development at Sanofi. 

In July, Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals  (REGN) - Get Report, which co-produced the drug, said a group of Covid-19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation failed to show measurable improvement when treated in a Phase 3 trial with Kevzara.

The two companies had announced in April the preliminary results from the Phase 2 portion of an ongoing trial evaluating Kevzara, a so-called interleukin-6 receptor antibody that helps reduce inflammation and offset a lack of oxygen getting to the lungs, in hospitalized patients with “severe” or “critical” respiratory illness caused by Covid-19.

The companies had said at the time that Kevzara showed potential to to treat patients most stricken with Covid-19.  In June, Regeneron said it was testing an antibody drug cocktail it’s developed specifically for Covid-19.

Gilead Sciences'  (GILD) - Get Report antiviral remdesivir and dexamethasone, a cheap corticosteroid used for rheumatism and asthma, have helped patients in tests, Reuters reported. 

Doctors are also routinely administering heparin and other anticoagulants to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming in the veins of the critically ill.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Report said it started enrolling adults for a Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.S. of its coronavirus vaccine candidate AZD1222.