Gilead disagrees with latest assessment of remdesivir

Written by: Jayson Derrick
April 23, 2020
  • The World Health Organization accidently published a disappointing study about Gilead's remdesivir.
  • The potential coronavirus medication failed to show any benefit in a Chinese study.
  • The company disagrees with the findings and notes recent encouraging data elsewhere.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) disagrees with a Chinese study’s conclusion that its potential coronavirus treatment therapy remdesivir failed to show any benefit.

WHO accidentally publishes data

The World Health Organization received a draft document from the authors of a Chinese study of remdesivir and was accidently posted online. The draft document states that remdesivir failed to improve patients’ conditions or reduce the pathogen’s presence in an infected person’s bloodstream, STAT News reported after reviewing the document.

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Among 237 patients enrolled in the study, 158 were given remdesivir but 18 were forced to cease treatment due to adverse side effects. Also, the mortality rate after 28 days was 13.9% among the group who received the treatment while the smaller control group suffered a mortality rate of 12.8%.

As such, Gilead’s therapy failed to show any “clinical or virological benefits” and the study was terminated earlier than expected. However, this part of the results shouldn’t be viewed as bad news as it was attributed to difficulties in enrolling patients in China as the number of infected people was falling.

Shares of Gilead reacted to the downside after media outlets started to report on the draft document. The stock lost more than 5% and contributed to a broader sell-off in the major indices and other stocks.

Gilead’s stock slightly rebounded after the trading halt but was still lower for the day.

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Gilead disagrees

Gilead said in a statement obtained by STAT that the study’s early termination implies it was “underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions.” As such, the study’s results are not negative, rather “inconclusive.”

The company also said in its statement trends and studies elsewhere confirm a “potential benefit” for its therapy, especially among patients who receive early treatment.

Most recently, researchers at the University of Chicago discussed during a virtual town hall encouraging data they are seeing from patients. STAT was first to review the conversation and its reporting sparked a rally in stocks as investors were encouraged with the latest developments on the medical front.

However, STAT notes in its Thursday report that the Chinese data is from a randomized controlled trial which is the “medical gold standard.”

Meanwhile, a WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said in a statement the manuscript is “undergoing peer review” and the organization won’t make further comments until it obtains the final version of the study.