Coronavirus pharma news roundup – 1/5/2020

This week saw several pharma companies reveal how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their sales. Meanwhile, there were some positive signs from trials of drugs that could treat COVID-19. Here are the biggest stories of the past seven days.

  • It’s official – Gilead’s remdesivir helps severely ill patients recover faster from COVID-19, according to results from a phase 3 placebo-controlled trial. Gilead also said the drug would be ‘affordable‘ as it outlined its plans to develop and ramp up production.
  • A new UK trial initiative aims to cut the design phase of clinical studies for potential COVID-19 drugs from around 18 months to just a few weeks.
  • Pfizer is preparing to start clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the US next week, and says it could have it ready for emergency use as early as the autumn if the FDA signs off the study quickly.
  • AstraZeneca has joined with Oxford University to develop and distribute the institution’s potential coronavirus vaccine, ahead of an early trial readout as soon as June or July.
  • There is a growing body of evidence that already-approved IL-6 could be used as treatments for COVID-19 following newly published clinical trial data – but the jury is out on whether they could be licensed in the new use until larger trial results are published in the coming weeks.
  • The World Health Organization brought together leaders from around the world in an “unprecedented” alliance to make access to coronavirus drugs and vaccines quick and equitable worldwide, although the US and China were conspicuous in their absence.
  • Germany’s BioNTech has said it has not received any takeover approaches after it began a high-profile coronavirus vaccine trial with Pfizer in Germany, following press reports over last weekend.
  • Merck & Co has lowered its full-year revenue and earnings estimates because of the impact of COVID-19 on its business, which is focused on products administered in hospitals.
  • However AstraZeneca has said the pandemic will not affect its performance in 2020, after its first quarter results beat analysts’ expectations.
  • Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline saw its sales surge in the first three months of the year, with the coronavirus pandemic giving its pharma and consumer health units a lift, but the company has warned of tougher times ahead
  • The US launch of Neurocrine’s Parkinson’s disease drug has been delayed due to the pandemic.
  • An app to treat children with ADHD developed by Akili has been made available ahead of its FDA approval, under an agency scheme to speed up access to digital therapies during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Pear Therapeutics has also taken advantage of the scheme to start a limited launch of its digital therapeutic for people living with schizophrenia.
  • More than two million people in Australia have downloaded a coronavirus tracing app developed by the country’s government a day after its release.
  • With nursing homes now at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, UK company Zendra Health has launched an app to support staff as they try to care for residents and curb the spread of the virus.