Monday, June 1, 2020
June 1, 2020

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Providence launches clinical trial of antiviral drug that could help treat coronavirus


PORTLAND — One Oregon hospital system has started offering coronavirus patients an antiviral drug, as part of a clinical trial that doctors hope can help treat coronavirus.

Providence St. Vincent and Providence Portland Medical Center, both in Portland, have started administering Remdesavir, a drug developed to fight the Ebola virus, to see if it might be able to help infected patients fight coronavirus.

Providence is on the front lines of treating Oregon’s coronavirus patients. As of Thursday, the hospital system had treated one-quarter of all coronavirus patients in the state who required hospital care.

In a video interview Monday, Dr. Tobias Pusch, an infectious disease physician at Providence St. Vincent and the investigator for the Remdesavir trial, said the drug essentially terminates some types of viruses and prevents them from replicating themselves.

“It has shown to be a very diverse medication in response to many different RNA viruses,” he said.

Pusch said Remdesavir was developed by Gilead, a pharmaceutical company. There were initially supposed to be only 25 sites in the United States enrolled in the trial, but he said Gilead has expanded the study. Providence is currently the only hospital system in Oregon enrolled in the trial.

As of Monday, there were nine patients enrolled in the trial at Providence St. Vincent, and five enrolled at Providence Portland Medical Center. Pusch said they were enrolling two or three patients per day, but said that he expected that number would increase significantly due to the influx of patients.

There are several criteria patients have to meet to enroll in the trial. Pusch said. Aside from having tested positive for the virus, patients have to be hospitalized with a fever and have oxygen saturation of lower than 94%. They also cannot be enrolled in any other experimental trial for coronavirus, have multiple organs failing, or require mechanical ventilation at the time they’re screened for the virus.

He said they try to enroll as many patients as possible in the trial, but if they don’t qualify, they have other options that patients can try, such as an anti-malarial medication

Pusch said Providence is likely two or three weeks away from getting results from the trial, but said they don’t have an exact date yet.

Doctors have been experimenting with several antiviral drugs as possible treatments for coronavirus, though none have yet proven successful.

The New York Times reported that researches in China had not found Kaletra, an antiviral drug, to be successful in treating coronavirus. The drug combines two antiviral medicines that are usually used for HIV treatment.