Covid-19 treatment: Gilead Sciences invited to study a drug that has become a hope for cats

Original article on theguardian.com

Gilead uviedol, že rozhodnutie o vyvoji remdesiviru bolo prijaté, keď sa ukázalo, že je v určitých kľúčových oblastiach „účinnejší“ ako GS-441524. 
Jessica Glenza @JessicaGlenza
Photo: Mike Blake / Reuters
Tuesday 4 August 2020 02.07 EDT

Activists are urging the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to study a drug for the treatment of Covid-19, which has shown promise in the treatment of feline coronavirus.

GS-441524 is chemically related to remdesivir, an antiviral drug also manufactured by Gilead, and one of the few treatments that successfully shortens the recovery time after Covid-19.

GS-441524 attracted attention with promising results in the treatment of another coronavirus disease - feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). The drug has become a major black market item with unapproved treatment for the disease, which until recently was generally considered incurable and fatal in cats.

In a letter to leaders of four government agencies currently developing treatment and vaccine for Covid-19, the left-wing Public Citizen group called on Gilead to work together to begin developing the drug.

The group also accused Gilead of deciding to develop remdesivir, which is much further in the clinical testing process than GS-441524, as it would remain in patent protection for longer and therefore generate greater profits.

"It is sadly predictable that the company is responding to a global pandemic by trying to market only those drugs that maximize its profits," said Dr. Michael Abrams, Public Citizen Health Research Research Fellow and lead author of the paper.

"It is alarming that federal scientists and the Trump's regulatory administration are showing a willingness to partner with Gilead in a decision that runs counter to the government's main imperative of improving public health during this global crisis," Abrams said.

Gilead specializes in antiviral drugs and has been criticized for its pricing policy in the past. A patented hepatitis C drug costs $ 1,000 per pill in the United States or $ 84,000 for the entire treatment. And Truvada, an HIV prevention drug that could significantly reduce transmission, can cost up to $ 20,000 a year in the United States.

However, not everyone agrees that price alone is the driving force behind Gilead's decision. Derek Lowe is a drug discovery scientist and author of In the Pipeline, a blog that focuses on early drug development. Lowe said that remdesivir could only be useful for a relatively short period of time until a successful vaccine was developed, and that GS-441524 lagged behind remdesivir by years.

"Monoclonal antibodies and vaccines are, in my opinion (and not only mine), the answer to this pandemic," Lowe said. As these treatments become available, molecularly based antivirals such as remdesivir and GS-441524 will become less valuable and necessary.

Remdesivir was readily available for human use because Gilead hoped to develop a drug to treat Ebola. And even though treatment of the virus failed, remdesivir had a "defined dose and safety profile," according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

"This is what leads to Gilead's decisions - they know that the remdesivir is their sparrow in a handful, and that pouring their (large but finite) resources into another compound to catch up can be a bad move," Lowe said. . "It's possible that by the time he's ready to launch, no one would be interested."

Hovorca spoločnosti Gilead uviedol, že rozhodnutie o vývoji remdesiviru bolo prijaté, keď sa ukázalo, že je v niektorých kľúčových oblastiach „účinnejší“ ako GS-441524, a teda je lepším kandidátom na potenciálnu liečbu Covid-19.

"A critical factor in this decision was the ability to make rapid progress in remdesivir clinical trials, given the urgency of the global pandemic," the spokesman added.

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