The US Army signed an agreement with drug giant Gilead on experimental COVID-19 treatment. Under the agreement, Gilead will supply the non-FDA approved medicine, Remdesivir, a failed Ebola drug, to the Defense Department at no cost.
Failed Drug Gets Second Chance
Gilead, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization are testing remdesivir in their own trials.
Remdesivir was created to treat Ebola, which, coincidently enough, resurfaced in Africa this year. A new Ebola case was reported April 10th, 2020 in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Although the drug didn't prove very effective in combating Ebola, according to reports, Remdesivir has helped to treat the symptoms of other illnesses, including MERS and SARS.
On a trial Funded by Gilead Sciences, 61 patients recieved at least one dosing of the experimental medicine, "clinical improvement" was observed in 36 and 7 died. According to Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat, if it takes 16 days for patients on placebo to improve.
Faith Without Reason
Although doctors involved in the study funded by Gilead seemed hopeful, others criticised the study and the findings.
“The data from this paper are almost uninterpretable,” Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in an email to Bloomberg.“There is some evidence suggesting efficacy, but we simply do not know what would have happened to these patients had they not been given the drug.”
Army Brig. Gen. Michael Talley was optimistic about the trial, “Together with our government and industry partners, we are progressing at almost revolutionary rates to deliver effective treatment and prevention products that will protect the citizens of the world and preserve the readiness and lethality of our service members.”
The Fine Print
Gilead states "Remdesivir is an investigational nucleotide analog with broad-spectrum antiviral activity – it is not approved anywhere globally for any use." They also said on their website "Remdesivir is an experimental medicine that does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition."
There are more than 100 coronavirus drugs and vaccines in development worldwide. A cure or vaccine have become top priority in the pharmaceutical industry.