Researchers in China have ended a clinical trial testing Gilead Sciences' (GILD 1.22%)drug remdesivir as a possible COVID-19 treatment. According to the U.S. government's clinical trial's database, recruitment into a study sponsored by a university in Wuhan has been suspended due to the lack of adult patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. 

China has done such a great job of controlling its coronavirus outbreak that it just isn't possible to find enough COVID-19 positive patients there to complete the clinical trial, which had been expected to be completed on April 10.

Hand halting a giant coronavirus.

Image source: Getty Images.

On Feb. 12, investigators in China began enrolling patients in the Hubei province into the study, with the goal of enrolling 308 coronavirus-positive adults. Investigators randomly placed patients into groups that received remdesivir or a placebo, but apparently, they weren't able to find enough eligible patients before the total lockdown brought the outbreak under control. 

Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug that Gilead developed as a treatment for Ebola, but it produced underwhelming results against that virus during a large study conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Gilead Sciences had already begun steering remdesivir's development toward different coronaviruses when SARS-CoV-2 emerged late last year, but as yet, no clinical studies have produced clear evidence that it is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

It's going around

Previously, researchers in Beijing terminated a similar trial expected to enroll 237 severely affected adults and complete on March 30. A lack of available COVID-19 patients was the reason given for the suspension of that trial as well.

Gilead Sciences is running a pair of controlled trials with remdesivir and different groups of COVID-19 positive patients. Those studies should finish dosing patients in May, although Gilead has promised to release some interim data by the end of April.