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We just got our first promising data on a new kind of drug to treat COVID-19. Here’s how Lilly and 13 other top drugmakers are sprinting to develop vaccines or treatments that can halt this pandemic.


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Drugmakers are racing to find treatments and vaccines to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

The companies — including giants like Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Merck, and Gilead Sciences — are taking a variety of approaches. Some are hunting for near-term treatment options, either by testing existing drugs or investigating new antivirals or antibodies. Others are developing vaccines aimed at preventing the virus.

Typically, developing a new treatment or vaccine can take years. But in the case of the pandemic, US health officials have been pushing speedy timelines. Several vaccine candidates have already started human testing, with late-stage trials that should produce results this fall ongoing. In September, Lilly said its antibody drug with partner AbCellera showed promising results in helping treat COVID-19. 

There are more than 1,000 ongoing clinical trials and hundreds of drugs in development to potentially treat COVID-19. Many of these studies are on repurposed drugs that are now being tested as coronavirus treatments.

There’s more potential in companies crafting therapeutics and vaccines designed to fight this novel coronavirus.

Here’s how 14 leading drugmakers are taking on that challenge.

Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir emerged as one of our best chances

The California biotech Gilead developed the antiviral drug remdesivir in 2009. It was previously tested in more than 100 Ebola patients during that outbreak.

The drug has shown it can help coronavirus patients recover more quickly. Based on that data, the FDA on May 1 issued an emergency authorization for the drug’s use in some severely ill patients. It later expanded that authorization, allowing more hospitalized patients to get Remdesivir. In July, Europe gave the drug a similar emergency OK. 

Gilead is charging up to $3,120 for a five-day treatment course of remdesivir, or up to $520 a vial. Governments, including the US government, will be charged less, $2,340 per treatment course, the company said. 

Read more: The 3-decade rise of Gilead, from California startup to the biotech with the best chance yet at an effective coronavirus treatment

Eli Lilly shared promising results from its antibody drug

Eli Lilly may be best-known for selling insulin, but the pharma giant has some powerful manufacturing capacity to pump out medicine. It’s working with a small Canadian company called AbCellera that specializes in discovering potent antibodies. 

Antibody therapies seek to replicate what the immune system does naturally in fighting a virus by creating a protein specifically designed to seek out and fight the invader.

On September 16, Lilly released early human data showing its antibody drug slashed the hospitalization rate. While 6% of COVID-19 patients with symptoms wound up in the hospital or emergency room when given a placebo, only 1.7% taking Lilly’s drug went to the hospital or ER. That finding was based on 452 trial volunteers and larger ongoing trials will seek to confirm those results.

Antibody treatments could be ready more quickly than a vaccine, and they could be especially helpful if some vaccine efforts don’t pan out or take longer than expected. Antibody drugs are being tested as both preventive treatments to …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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