US drugmakers join forces to test COVID-19 cure
Rival US drugmakers, AbbVie Inc, Amgen Inc and Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc., on Monday (03) said they have begun treating patients in a trial to quickly show whether a drug from each company can be repurposed and used against COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an “all hands on deck moment,” stated David Reese, Amgen’s research and development chief. “We wanted a trial to be able to quickly sift through multiple agents and prioritise.”
The study is a collaboration among pharmaceutical industry members of the recently-formed COVID Research & Development Alliance, Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative, a partnership of medical researchers and investors, and the US Food and Drug Administration.
The first segment will test whether Amgen’s psoriasis drug Otezla, Takeda’s anti-inflammatory Firazyr and AbbVie’s cenicriviroc – which has been tried in patients with HIV – will help with the overactive, and potentially damaging, immune response that sometimes happens in patients with severe COVID-19.
The study’s “adaptive platform” means several treatment candidates can be tested at the same time, with the most promising moving forward and the least promising dropping out, stated Quantum Leap Co-Founder, Dr. Laura Esserman.
“We could have some results in as early as six weeks,” she said, adding that additional drugs will soon be added to the roster.
Since the outbreak began seven months ago, so far killing more than 675,000 people worldwide, hundreds of clinical trials have been launched around the world to test whether existing drugs or experimental compounds could be effective treatments.
“There are a huge number of trials that for all the best intentions have been stood up around the world, but many are smaller – what we would call underpowered – and will not provide definitive answers,” Amgen’s Reese said.