(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline has started a trial to test an experimental rheumatoid arthritis drug on patients suffering from COVID-19 related pneumonia, after screening its drugs for potential in the fight against the coronavirus.

Drug otilimab – in which GSK acquired rights from German biotech firm Morphosys in 2013 – may possibly ease the devastating effect of the virus on the lungs, while not suppressing the virus directly, a company spokesman said.

For the study, about 800 patients with severe pulmonary COVID-19 related disease will receive either otilimab or placebo, according to website ClinicalTrials.gov.

FILE PHOTO: The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) logo is seen on top of GSK Asia House in Singapore, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Loriene Perera

Initial results are expected towards the end of 2020 and if promising, GSK would eye regulatory filings next year, the GSK spokesman said.


Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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