US plans trial of Gilead coronavirus drug remdesivir

A scientist at Gilead Sciences analyzes patient antibody levels at the Gilead laboratory in Foster City, Calif.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. is planning a clinical trial of Gilead’s experimental drug for the novel coronavirus, according to a posting on a government clinical trials database.

The trial, run by the University of Nebraska Medical Center along with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be conducted at up to 50 sites globally, and will test the medicine, called remdesivir, against placebo, according to the protocol, which was posted Feb. 21. The site also notes that, as of then, the trial was not yet recruiting patients.

A World Health Organization doctor, Bruce Aylward, said Monday after a tour through China that Gilead’s medicine is the only one that appears to have promise against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It’s being tested in two trials in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, though Aylward noted slow enrollment in those studies because of declining patient numbers and trials of other medicines also being conducted.

“We have got to start prioritizing enrollment into those things that may save lives and save them faster,” Aylward said at a press briefing Monday in China. “And that’s a global issue, not China, it’s a global issue.”

Gilead’s shares rose 4.6% Monday, and were up just less than 1% before the market opened Tuesday. The stock, which has a market value of about $92 billion, has gained nearly 11% over the past year. 

The company, NIAID and researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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