Gilead Sciences offers experimental medications for coronavirus treatments and tests

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Gilead Sciences Inc.

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He said Friday that he had provided doses of an experimental antiviral medication to doctors for the emergency treatment of a small number of patients infected with the new coronavirus.

Gilead, based in Foster City, California, also said it formalized an agreement with the Chinese authorities to conduct a clinical trial of the drug remdesivir in patients infected with the coronavirus.

Health authorities have been seeking treatment for coronavirus infections in China, which lack an approved drug or vaccine. Several drug manufacturers have said they are trying to develop a vaccine, which could prevent but not treat infections.

The researchers hoped to study whether the remdesivir of Gilead and other antivirals could work as treatments.

Unlike some of the other antivirals being examined, the Gilead drug is not approved for use in humans by regulators in the US. UU. Or internationally. Unapproved medications are sometimes used or tested in emergencies when health authorities believe that the medication could help patients who would otherwise lack good treatments.

Separately, the drug was administered to an infected patient in Washington state, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday. The 35-year-old man had traveled to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, and after returning to the United States he was the first person in the country to test positive for China’s coronavirus.

The patient received remdesivir on the seventh day of hospitalization, on January 26, and on the following day the patient’s clinical condition improved. As of January 30, the patient remains hospitalized, but “all symptoms have resolved with the exception of his cough, which is decreasing in severity,” the researchers wrote.

The day he was treated with the drug Gilead, the patient’s fever reached 39.4 degrees Celsius (102.9 degrees Fahrenheit). The next day, it dropped to 37.3 degrees Celsius (99.1 degrees Fahrenheit) and decreased to the normal range in the following days, the newspaper said.

“Before treatment he had a high fever and was getting sick,” George Diaz, the doctor who sees the patient at the Providence Everett Regional Medical Center, said in an interview on Friday. “After treatment, I had reduced fevers and no longer needed oxygen. His lungs cleared and, in general, he felt better. ”

However, Dr. Diaz warned that the medication should be studied in large clinical trials to determine if it is an effective treatment for coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for Gilead declined to say how many patients are receiving the medication or where they are. In clinical trials of patients with Ebola, the drug was less effective than rival treatments. In animal studies, the drug helped decrease lung disease in mice infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome, a coronavirus known as MERS.

Write to Joseph Walker at joseph.walker@wsj.com

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