Eli Lilly & Co. and Incyte Corp have announced that their rheumatoid arthritis medication called baricitinib has helped hospitalized COVID-19 patients reduce their recovery times when the drug is administered in combination with remdesivir, Gilead Sciences' antiviral treatment.
Branded as Olumiant, Lilly disclosed that test results showed the vaccine cut median recovery time to approximately one day if combined with remdesivir, compared with patients given only the latter, alone, Fierce Pharma reported.
According to David Ricks, Elli Lilly's chief executive officer, the result is an "impressive improvement." The research involving over 1,000 subjects was carried out in May and was backed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Licensed by Lilly from Incyte, baricitinib has the capability to block a potentially dangerous immune reaction to the COVID-19 scientists refer to as "cytokine storm." Remdesivir, an injected treatment, acts directly against the virus by suppressing viral reproduction.
A separate study that was previously carried out indicated that hospitalized COVID patients who have been given remdesivir had a median recovery time of roughly 11 days. Lilly said it estimates full results to be released soon.
Only convalescent plasma and remdesivir have been granted emergency use authorizations by the U.S. government to treat the virus. Convalescent's Food and Drug Administration permit caused a controversy, as it was thought the evaluation process was swayed by political figures.
The FDA had given an EUA for hydroxychloroquine, a vaccine that was publicly promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump before remdesivir and convalescent received theirs, but later quashed it after regulated tests showed the treatment was not safe and effective.
In June, Eli Lilly also started a final-phase research to test baricitinib as a single-treatment medication in hospitalized COVID patients across Europe, the U.S., Latin America and Asia.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Olumiant's sales worldwide hit $285 million for the first half ended June 30, compared with around $185 million in the year-ago period.
Other anti-inflammatory vaccines produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Roche Holding, and Sanofi SA have all failed to help patients suffering from the virus in separate trials this year. Roche is still working on its Actemra in tandem with remdesivir.