Eli Lilly’s rheumatoid arthritis drug accelerates recovery in COVID-19 patients

(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co said on Monday its rheumatoid arthritis drug shortened the recovery time for hospitalized COVID-19 patients also given Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir.

Lilly said its drug, baricitinib, branded as Olumiant, in combination with remdesivir cut the median recovery time by about a day, compared to patients treated with remdesivir alone.

Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 after the drug was granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) in May on the basis of trial data that showed it helped shorten hospital recovery time.

While vaccines are seen as essential in controlling the pandemic, experts say treatments are needed to control the severity of the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Eli Lilly’s data was important because “both treatments and vaccines will be needed to address the pandemic,” said Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen.

Based on the results from the trial, which tested more than 1,000 patients, Lilly said it plans to discuss the potential for an EAU for baricitinib with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Lilly is seen on a wall of the Lilly France company unit, part of the Eli Lilly and Co drugmaker group, in Fegersheim near Strasbourg, France, February 1, 2018. Picture taken February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The drug, licensed by Lilly from Incyte Corp, could help suppress a potentially lethal immune response to COVID-19 called “cytokine storm”.

Eli Lilly in June also began a late-stage study to test the drug in hospitalized patients across the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.


Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli


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