Gilead’s shares fell sharply on Wall Street on Thursday, after leaking data about a clinical trial in China of its antiviral remdesivir, applied to severe cases of Covid-19. The published data showed a null efficacy of this antiviral, the most promising drug in the fight against the coronavirus in already infected patients.
However, the company and the scientific team participating in the trials assure that the summary does not represent the results. The WHO, which helps coordinate global efforts to find a cure for the pandemic, admitted that it accidentally released the results. Although the report was quickly deleted, it has been published by the specialized website Stat and the newspaper Financial Times, which considers the trial unsuccessful.
According to the data, the compound could not be associated with the improvement of the patients: 13.9% of the patients treated with remdesivir died, compared to 12.8% of those treated with standard care. Some Gilead suppliers have fallen sharply in Asian markets, although one of them, Porton Pharma, has told the stock authority that it has received confirmation of orders from Gilead, which is accelerating the production of remdesivir doses.
Last week, Gilead shot up on the Stock Exchange after leaking data in the opposite direction, in this case about a clinical trial in Chicago. The company also warned at that time that the results, published by a medical journal, were partial.
“That is not correct,” Frederick Hayden, an infectious disease expert who collaborates with the firm, has assured Bloomberg. “My interpretation of the data is not consistent with that headline,” referring to information from Financial Times about a failed trial. Gilead, in a statement, assures that the summary poorly explains the results of the study, which was suspended when it did not find a minimum number of patients to obtain solid conclusions. “The trend in the data suggests a potential benefit of remdesivir, particularly among patients treated on time,” added Gilead. The company said the full data will be subject to review and publication.
The study in question has been one of the two main trials in China with remdesivir, and focused on severe cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. He aspired to have 450 patients, but he did not reach half that number since confinement reduced the rate of infection.
Gilead is testing this drug in critically ill patients at 152 different medical centers, although many of these are so-called compassionate treatments: they are applied to patients for whom there is no alternative, but the results are not cross-checked against an alternative group of patients. who does not receive the drug. In Spain, remdesivir is being used to treat patients with coronavirus in eight hospitals: La Paz, Alcalá de Henares, Ramón y Cajal and 12 de Octubre, in Madrid; the Clinic and the Vall d’Hebrón, in Catalonia; the Hospital de Cruces, in the Basque Country, and the Carlos Haya, in Andalusia.
There are currently no approved treatments for coronavirus, a highly contagious disease that has infected more than 2.6 million people in just over four months, killed more than 200,000 and caused the confinement of much of the world‘s population.
Redemsivir is the drug that has offered the best prospects. In February, Bruce Aylward, WHO’s deputy director-general, argued that this drug “may be the only effective treatment against coronavirus.” Two weeks ago the prestigious medical journal New England Journal published that two thirds of a group of seriously ill covid-19 patients saw their condition improve after receiving treatment with this drug.