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University Hospitals among first in nation to test coronavirus antiviral drug

University Hospitals has secured a pair of clinical trials that will test an antiviral drug to treat coronavirus.

University Hospitals will be among the first hospitals in the United States to test an antiviral drug aimed at treating the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a press release, UH revealed that it has secured two clinical trials that will provide the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir to hospitalized adults with a pneumonia due to the novel coronavirus. One of the trials will focus on COVID-19 patients with moderate illness, while the other will be aimed at patients with more severe illness who may require care in the intensive care unit.

“This is some promising news in the midst of this COVID-19 situation,” said Daniel Simon, MD, Chief Clinical & Scientific Officer and President, UH Cleveland Medical. “Our UH research team has worked closely with the manufacturer, Gilead, in recent days to secure the studies. We are grateful to be one of the first sites in the U.S. to participate in these clinical trials. Both trials are now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and our Institutional Review Board, and we are expecting shipment of the experimental drug remdesivir in the next couple of days.”

Under the leadership of Grace McComsey, MD, Vice President of Research and Associate Chief Scientific Officer at UH, the UH Clinical Research Center will conduct the studies.

“The need for rigorous, professionally conducted research – activity that goes on every day in our UH Clinical Research Center -- is critical in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. McComsey. “There is no established treatment for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The trials we are preparing to conduct are especially significant because they test an active antiviral treatment, rather than just supportive care.”

The first trial will be aimed at evaluating the efficacy of two different remdesivir regimens compared to the standard of care based on the proportion of participants discharged on or before day 14 of their hospitalization. The second trial will be used to evaluate the efficacy of two different remdesivir regimens and their ability to normalize patients’ temperature and oxygen saturation through day 14.

Remdesivir has previously demonstrated activity against COVID-19 infection in animal studies. It has also shown to be safe and tolerable based on a safety database of more than 500 people who have received remdesivir in Ebola and early phase studies to date.

Participants in both studies will be given active remdesivir intravenously. They will be randomized to either five days or 10 days of treatment.

“The goal, as always, is to ensure access to the most novel treatments for our UH patients and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Simon.

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