Veru Leaps on Progress With COVID-19 Treatment Trial

Veru CEO says the company's cancer drug was found to also be effective in treating COVID-19 patients in Phase II trials.
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Veru  (VERU) - Get Report continued to soar Tuesday after the oncology biotech reported progress in a clinical trial of its COVID-19 therapy.

Shares of the Miami company at last check were 52% higher at $21.20. On Tuesday they touched a 52-week high $24.57, up 77%. The stock traded at $2.30 in October.

The company said that deaths and respiratory failures among hospitalized patients in the Phase 2 clinical trial who received the treatment, VERU-111, fell 81% 29 days after treatment compared with patients receiving a placebo.

Mitchell Steiner, Veru's chairman, president and chief executive, on Monday appeared on TheStreet.com Founder Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" program. 

There, he explained that Veru's prostate cancer drug, Veru-111, was found to also be effective in treating COVID-19 patients in Phase 2 trials. 

He said the same therapies used to fight cancer have proved to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral capabilities to help patients who have severe COVID. 

Steiner added that the current standard of care for severe COVID cases is not very good and Veru hopes to work on top of current treatments to provide better outcomes.

Veru said about 40 hospitalized patients at high risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome from SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, participated in the trial.

Veru-111, a medication given by mouth daily, reduced the days on mechanical ventilation from an average of 5.4 days in the placebo group to 1.6 days in the VERU-111-treated group. It showed a good safety profile, the company said.

"We are in critical need of effective drugs in high-risk COVID-19 patients," Alan Skolnick, principal investigator with HD Research, who conducted the trial at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center in Houston. 

Skolnick said the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the emergence of new mutant COVID-19 strains and the lack of truly effective drugs in hospitalized, high-risk patients "make it critical that we advance Veru-111 and confirm these impressive results in a Phase 3 clinical study as quickly as possible.” 

Veru is scheduled to report earnings Wednesday before the market opens.