Eli Lilly (LLY 1.01%) is one of the many drugmakers that have been looking to develop a treatment for COVID-19, and the company recently announced it was making progress in its efforts to do so. Eli Lilly partnered up with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to study the safety and efficacy of Olumiant as a potential treatment for COVID-19. The FDA approved Olumiant in June 2018 as a treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Eli Lilly now thinks the RA medicine -- because of its anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system -- may be effective at treating COVID-19 patients.

The NIAID is leading the clinical trial for Olumiant, which will involve hospitalized patients in the U.S. diagnosed with COVID-19. Results from the study should be available within two months. Eli Lilly is also planning on starting a separate phase 2 clinical trial for an antibody called LY3127804 as a potential treatment against COVID-19. This trial, which will begin in late April, will mainly target "pneumonia patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who are at a higher risk of progressing to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)."

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Though Eli Lilly's progress is commendable, Gilead Sciences' (GILD -1.29%) antiviral drug, remdesivir, remains the most promising potential treatment for COVID-19. The pharma giant recently announced encouraging results from an analysis of patients suffering from COVID-19 who were treated with remdesivir on a compassionate basis. The analysis showed that the majority of those treated with remdesivir demonstrated clinical improvement. However, as this analysis did not stem from formal clinical studies, it is essential to take its conclusion with a grain of salt.