ST. LOUIS — St. Louis University on Tuesday announced that they would start testing possible treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, starting with a drug originally developed to treat Ebola.
The drug, remdesivir, has shown some “activity” against the coronaviruses MERS and SARS in animals, its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc., says. The company says that the “limited preclinical data“ on the use of the drug against those pathogens indicate it “may have potential activity against COVID-19.“
They also stress that remdesivir is “an experimental medicine that does not have established safety or efficacy for the treatment of any condition.”
The study is being supported by the National Institutes of Health and will occur in roughly 75 locations worldwide, SLU said.
“We urgently need specific treatments for the novel coronavirus that is spreading in the U.S. and globally because there is no current medication for the disease,” said Sarah George, M.D., associate professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University and the principal investigator of the St. Louis trial, in a news release announcing the tests.
SLU and other sites are not seeking or accepting volunteers from the general public. Only patients with lab-confirmed cases at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital who are at least 18 are eligible.
Gilead said the study will begin this month and will enroll a total of about 1,000 patients in the first phase. It will test and five and ten-day doses of the drug in patients with severe cases of the disease.
The company is allowing emergency access to the drug, but only for the treatment of pregnant women and children under 18 with “severe manifestations of the disease,” due to overwhelming demand.
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