Gilead’s remdesivir dominated headlines on Wednesday: what we know so far

Written by: Jayson Derrick
April 29, 2020
  • Gilead Sciences' remdesivir showed encouraging results for the treatment of the coronavirus.
  • News helped spur a rally in stocks.
  • The FDA confirmed it is in "sustained and ongoing" talks to make the drug available.

Global biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) helped spur a rally in stocks Wednesday after results from a trial showed its drug remdesivir could potentially help treat people infected with the coronavirus.

The study

Remdesivir is an antiviral medication developed by Gilead in the late 2000s as a potential treatment for Ebola. Medical experts have been exploring its potential use as a treatment against the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the company’s trial results spurred a rally in stocks as investors were assuming the worst of the global pandemic could be over.

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Gilead announced topline results from an open-label, Phase 3 trial of remdesivir among patients receiving a five-day and 10-day dosing. The trial showed patients on the 10-day treatment achieved similar improvement in clinical status compared with those on the five-day treatment course.

The time to clinical improvement for 50% of patients was 10 days in the five-day treatment group and 11-days in the 10-day treatment group, the company said. More than half of patients in both cohorts were discharged from the hospital by Day 14.

On Wednesday, a separate trial from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said its study met its main goal.

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Regulatory timeline

Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved for the treatment of coronavirus, nor has it been classified as safe and effective. But following the study release, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed it has been in “sustained and ongoing” talks to make the drug available to patients “as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” CNBC reported.

Gilead’s study received praise at smoe of the highest levels of the federal government, including White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. He said the data should be considered “quite good news” as it showed a “clear-cut positive effect in diminishing time to recover.”

Reports of an emergency authorization use for remdisivisr has yet to be confirmed. 

‘Beginning of the end of the true nightmare’

Encouraging readouts from remdesivir could signal the “beginning of the end of the true nightmare” which is a potential “death sentence” for vulnerable people who contracted the coronavirus, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said on “Squawk Box.” Removing the “death sentence” would imply society can now approach the virus in a different way.

“It’s perfectly realistic for people to start thinking, you know what, maybe I can lead my life differently and not feel like it’s dangerous to walk down the street.” Cramer said. 

The trial results are also supportive of Wednesday’s stock rally, Cramer said. The S&P 500 index is on track for its best monthly percentage gain since 1974 with just one more trading day until May 1 on Friday. Similarly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is on pace for its largest monthly gain since 1987.