Patients rushing to join studies of promising coronavirus drug
The new coronavirus made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital. His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumonia-choked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts General’s Intensive Care Unit. When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that’s shown promise against some other coronaviruses, it “did not even cross my mind once to say ‘no,”‘ said Singh, a heart specialist. Coronavirus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks. Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The drug’s maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies, too.”I would enroll my family in a heartbeat” if the need arose, said Dr. Libby Hohmann, who placed Singh and nearly 30 others in the NIH one at Mass General. To have no approved medicines for COVID-19 now is “kind of terrifying,” she said. Remdesivir is given through an IV. It’s designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.