The share price of Eli Lilly & Co. is expected to open Friday on the New York Stock Exchange up 0.4% from Thursday's close after news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of its arthritis drug baricitinib to treat COVID patients.

The approval Thursday saw the share price rise to $143.41 at the end of play from $140.25 at the open - a 2.3% rise.

Baricitinib is an oral tablet which, when used in combination with Gilead Sciences, Inc.' remdesivir, is shown to cut recovery time to within 29 days after administration, federal regulators said.

Sold as Olumiant, baricitinib is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication to treat moderate to severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Baricitinib and remdesivir is the first vaccine mixture to be granted emergency use approval by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID.

The safety and efficacy of the combination treatment continues to be examined. Baricitinib - which prevents the activity of one or more of a specific group of enzymes blocking pathways that cause inflammation - isn't approved as a stand-alone treatment for COVID, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The combination was approved for treatment in hospitalized adults and patients who are more than 2 years old and require supplemental oxygen.

The combination was granted emergency use approval based on a randomized double-blind clinical test that showed it increased the chances of survival by 35% compared with patients given remdesivir alone.

According to Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen M. Hahn "today's action demonstrates the Food and Drug Administration's steadfast efforts to make potential COVID-19 treatments available in a timely manner...while continuing to support research to further evaluate whether they are safe and effective," the Indianapolis Star quoted the commissioner as saying.

Health experts are also interested in the mixture of baricitinib and the steroid dexamethasone - the latter was given to President Donald Trump when he tested positive for COVID - as a potential treatment.

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly stock is up 7% on the New York Stock Exchange since the start of 2020 and has rallied almost 20% from its March lows.