Early Coronavirus Drug Trials Yield Mixed Results

Drug trials on coronavirus patients in China yielded mixed results, with an HIV pill showing little benefit and a flu medication made byFujifilm Holdings Corp. resulting in faster clearance of the virus.

The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, marketed byAbbVie Inc. as Kaletra, didn’t improve the condition of Covid-19 patients or prevent them from dying more than standard care in a randomized, controlled trial of 199 patients. The research waspublished Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A separate study of 80 patients receiving Fujifilm’s favipiravir, or Avigan, found it helped clear the virus from patients a week earlier than the HIV medicine and was associated with improved chest symptoms shown on CT scans.

The favipiravir study, which wasn’t randomized, was conducted in a different group of patients and at a later time point when doctors might have discovered better ways to care for patients, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat said in a note.

The clincial research on favipiravir augers well for another anti-viral,Gilead Sciences Inc.’s experimental drug remdesivir, which is also undergoing clinical trials in China, Tyler Van Buren, an analyst with Piper Sandler said. Results of the remdesivir study are yet to be published.

“If successful, it could be approved for broad use in the coming months considering it’s safe, the bar for efficacy in the context of the ongoing global pandemic is low,” he said.

— With assistance by Michelle Fay Cortez, and Cristin Flanagan

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