The search for effective COVID-19 drugs presses on, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launching a new trial of three immune modulator drugs in hospitalized patients. The phase 3 study will examine Johnson & Johnson’s popular TNF blocker Remicade, Bristol Myers Squibb’s arthritis med Orencia and an experimental drug from AbbVie called ceniciviroc, the NIH said Friday. The goal is to see whether these therapies can be repurposed to control potentially life-threatening immune overreactions in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.
The NIH intends to enroll about 2,100 patients, all of whom will also get Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, which the NIH considers as the current standard of care. The new trial, dubbed ACTIV-1 IM, builds on previous findings from another NIH-run study that showed remdesivir could cut patients’ recovery time by 30%, with benefits most pronounced in severe patients that require some oxygen support but not those on invasive ventilation. But still, consensus is that the med isn’t a magic bullet for the disease. In COVID-19, a patient’s immune system might release too many immune molecules as it tries to fight off the infection, triggering a condition called “cytokine storm,” in which critical organs are also under attack. Previously, the NIH found that adding Eli Lilly’s rheumatoid arthritis med Olumiant to remdesivir helped patients recover one day faster, an improvement of 12.5%. Patients on the combo also enjoyed better chance at clinical improvement after 15 days of treatment.
Governor Cuomo Announces Draft New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the NYS Department of Health has released a draft COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program that serves as an initial framework for ensuring the safe and effective distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in New York. The draft program was developed in consultation with leading clinical and public health experts, and requires collaboration and partnership with local departments of health, community partners and organizations, and the federal government.
Given the many unknowns at this point in the vaccine development process, the draft New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program is designed to be flexible and account for multiple variables and scenarios regarding vaccine availability, timeline for vaccine approval, delineation of federal and state responsibilities, funding, supply chain needs, and allocation requirements.