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Drug Seems to Be Helping 'Severe' Coronavirus Patients

Gilead's remdesivir shows big promise in Chicago, but official results aren't out
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2020 8:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – You'll likely be hearing a lot about a drug named remdesivir in the coming days. A report from STAT suggests the drug made by Gilead Sciences is showing big promise in treating "severe" coronavirus patients in Chicago. A big caveat: This is not based on the results of a published study, so "cautious optimism" is a theme of coverage. STAT obtained a video of an infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago, Kathleen Mullane, discussing early results with peers. "The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great," Mullane says in the video. "We've only had two patients perish." The university hospital is participating in lab tests of the drug. Of 125 people recruited for the tests, 113 had severe symptoms, and all received daily doses of the drug.

It's not clear when official results will be out, but it could be soon. In the meantime, the report is generating plenty of buzz. For one thing, the Dow is expected to jump about 800 points on the news, reports CNBC. The WHO identified remdesivir in February as a drug with potential, and other trials are underway elsewhere, notes CNN. "The totality of the data need to be analyzed in order to draw any conclusions," the company says in a statement, adding that "anecdotal reports, while encouraging," are not enough. Reuters notes that a study last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 36 of 53 severe coronavirus patients treated with remdesivir showed clinical improvement. The author was "hopeful" but said the lack of a control group and small sample size tempered things. The Chicago study also lacks a control group, notes CNN. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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