Drugmakers Repurpose Existing Therapies for COVID-19
Drugmakers are scouring their product portfolios for possible COVID-19 treatments and some are showing potential.
Novartis is launching a phase 3 clinical trial in partnership with Incyte to evaluate its JAK inhibitor Jakavi (ruxolitinib) to treat cytokine storm, a severe immune reaction in some COVID-19 patients.
The trial will assess Jakavi in combination with standard of care in patients with severe pneumonia as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Novartis is also establishing an international compassionate use program for the drug.
Jakavi is approved in 101 countries for patients with myelofibrosis and in more than 75 countries for patients with polycythemia vera, a type of blood cancer that causes the bone marrow to make too many red blood cells.
Meanwhile, EUSA Pharma’s siltuximab has shown promise against COVID-19, based on interim data from an observational trial in Italy. The company is studying the drug in COVID-19 patients who have developed serious respiratory conditions.
Data from the first 21 patients treated show that three-quarters of patients remained stable or improved. Only three patients experienced a worsening of the disease, one died, and one experienced a cerebrovascular event.
The trial also showed a decline in C-reactive protein levels, a marker of systemic inflammation.
Siltuximab is currently approved as Sylvant for treatment of patients with multicentric Castleman disease, a rare condition that affects the lymph nodes and related tissues. — Jordan Williams