Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Mixed Results for Gilead Sciences' COVID-19 Treatment

By Cory Renauer - May 23, 2020 at 10:03AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Remdesivir helped patients recover faster, but the experimental coronavirus treatment didn't lower patients' risk of death.

Late on Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend, a leading medical journal published results from a government-sponsored clinical trial with the experimental coronavirus treatment, remdesivir. The blinded, randomized study showed clear evidence that treatment with Gilead Sciences' (GILD -0.03%) experimental antiviral drug helped patients recover faster, but investigators from the National Institute of Allery and Infectious Disease (NIAID) couldn't find clear evidence of a survival benefit.

Good news and bad news

Remdesivir's main goal in the NIAID study was shortened time to recovery and Gilead's antiviral candidate clearly hit the mark. A majority of patients treated with remdesivir recovered in 11 days or less compared to a median recovery time of 15 days for patients given a placebo.

Physician with a clipboard in an ICU

Image source: Getty Images.

There were 32 deaths in the 538-patient remdesivir group and 54 deaths among 521 patients given a placebo. Unfortunately, this numerical benefit wasn't strong enough to be considered statistically significant.

Don't touch that dial

Antiviral drugs make it hard for viruses to reproduce, which makes them generally more effective when used to treat patients in the early stages of infections like COVID-19. This is probably why remdesivir looked highly effective when used to treat hospitalized patients that require supplemental oxygen, but ineffective when treatment didn't begin until patients had already progressed to more severe stages of the disease. 

To see if remdesivir truly can reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, Gilead Sciences is running a study called Simple-Severe that is specifically enrolling a population of patients that require oxygen but not ventilation. The company expects to publish the Simple-Severe data in the near future but hasn't provided further details regarding the trial's progress.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
$62.34 (-0.03%) $0.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/06/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.