Investor Alert

June 2, 2020, 6:18 a.m. EDT

A new batch of data for Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir points to efficacy but it’s no ‘silver bullet’

Gilead is already testing remdesivir in combination with a number of rheumatoid arthritis drugs, including Eli Lilly & Co.’s Olumiant and Roche Holding AG’s Actemra

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By Jaimy Lee

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A slice of data from the third clinical trial for Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir indicates that the experimental therapy is somewhat effective in treating COVID-19 patients but is not the silver bullet that had been hoped for.

Shares of Gilead /zigman2/quotes/210293917/composite GILD -0.02%  were down 2.9% in trading on Monday after the drugmaker announced partial data from an open-label, Phase 3 clinical tria l evaluating remdesivir in moderately ill COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized.

The results found that the drug is more effective in patients who received a five-day regimen than those who took the drug for twice as long or those on the standard of care, based on one endpoint: clinical improvement by day 11. The full clinical trial data is expected to be published at a later date.

Read: Why virus stocks are driving market volatility

The design of the trial has also raised eyebrows among some analysts and pharmaceutical experts. Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat told investors on Monday that the primary endpoint was changed halfway through the trial, from percentage of patients discharged after 14 days to clinical improvement on day 11. Discharge data from the trial wasn’t released on Monday.

“While remdesivir ‘worked’ on a 7-point scale, a fair amount of critical data has not been disclosed just yet,” he wrote.

Gilead previously shared data from an open-label, Phase 3 clinical study evaluating remdesivir in severely ill patients, as did the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from a randomized, placebo-controlled study of the drug. Both data sets were used to inform the Food and Drug Administration’s decision on May 1 to grant emergency use authorization to remdesivir for certain very ill COVID-19 patients.

“Looking at the totality of data, remdesivir appears to be effective,” Maxim Group’s Jason McCarthy wrote in a Monday note, noting that the investigational drug is not a “silver bullet.” “However, other treatments are likely to emerge with improved efficacy in COVID-19, in our view.”

Today’s numbers: Coronavirus update: Global case tally tops 6 million as weekend protests spark concerns they will lead to an increase in infections

Gilead has already announced that it is testing remdesivir in combination with a number of other drugs, including Eli Lilly & Co.’s /zigman2/quotes/200106384/composite LLY -0.20%  rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant and Roche Holding AG’s /zigman2/quotes/206324342/delayed CH:ROG -1.41%  rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra. There are also numerous other clinical trials under way evaluating approved and experimental therapies as potential COVID-19 treatments.

Since Jan. 31, when Gilead first confirmed that Chinese health authorities were testing remdesivir, an experimental drug that was previously tested as an Ebola disease treatment, in COVID-19 patients, the company’s stock took off, soaring nearly 14% from Feb. 3 to March 2 and hitting a two-year high of $84.00 on April 30, the day before remdesivir received the EUA. Since the authorization, it has drifted downward, hovering around $75.00 in recent days.

Gilead’s stock has gained 16.6% year-to-date and is up 9.2 % over the last three months. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.44%  is down 5.7% since the start of the year.

US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 87.96
-0.02 -0.02%
Volume: 6.76M
Dec. 6, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$110.35 billion
Rev. per Employee
$ 368.54
-0.75 -0.20%
Volume: 1.97M
Dec. 6, 2022 4:03p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$364.54 billion
Rev. per Employee
CH : Switzerland: SWX
CHF 305.20
-4.35 -1.41%
Volume: 895,057
Dec. 6, 2022 5:30p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
CHF255.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
-57.58 -1.44%
Volume: 0.00
Dec. 6, 2022 5:17p

Jaimy Lee is a health-care reporter for MarketWatch. She is based in New York.

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