Gilead is launching a phase 1 clinical trial of an inhaled version of remdesivir, a drug used to treat Covid-19, that could be administered to patients outside of the hospital, it said in a statement released Wednesday.
Though there are no drugs approved by the FDA to treat Covid-19, Remdesivir is one of the more promising candidates and was granted an Emergency Use Authorization in May to treat patients with severe cases of the disease.
In the hospital remdesivir is given intravenously, but the new trial will test whether it is effective if breathed directly into the lungs.
The medication would be given to patients through a nebulizer, a device commonly used to treat asthma that turns liquid medication into a breathable mist.
If inhaled remdesivir is successful, it could be an at-home or doctor’s office treatment for patients who are not sick enough to need hospitalization, but still could benefit from medication.
The new trial will include approximately 60 adults, and will test first for safety and tolerability of the inhaled medication.
“Based on current scientific understanding, the upper respiratory tract is the most prevalent site of SARSCoV-2 infection early in disease,” said Gilead’s Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey in a statement. “Delivering remdesivir directly to the primary site of infection with a nebulized, inhaled solution may enable more targeted and accessible administration in non-hospitalized patients.”
While many medications have been tested to see if they can treat Covid-19, almost none have been successful so far. Some studies have shown that remdesivir, an antiviral medication developed by Gilead, can help patients recover faster from severe Covid-19 in the hospital — but more research still needs to be done. One study found that patients treated with remdesivir recovered from Covid-19 about four days faster than those treated with a placebo, and had a 7.1% risk of mortality compared to 11.9%. In early June, the U.S. received criticism for buying the world’s supply of the drug, leaving some to wonder what other countries would do if they need it for Covid-19 treatment. Late last month the pricing of remdesivir was revealed: private insurance companies in the U.S. will be charged $3,120 for a course of treatment, or $520 per vial.
I am the assistant editor of healthcare and science at Forbes. I recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a Master’s of Journalism and a Master’s of Public Health, with a specialty in infectious disease. Before that, I was at Johns Hopkins University where I double-majored in writing and public health. I’ve written articles for STAT, Vice, Science News, HealthNewsReview and other publications. At Forbes, I cover all aspects of health, from disease outbreaks to biotech startups.