Lilly's rheumatoid arthritis drug cuts COVID-19 deaths in trial, data shows

Reuters

Posted at Oct 09 2020 03:15 AM

Lilly's rheumatoid arthritis drug cuts COVID-19 deaths in trial, data shows 1
Eli Lilly logo is shown on one of the company's offices in San Diego, California, US, September 17, 2020. Mike Blake, Reuters/File Pho

Eli Lilly and Co said on Thursday fewer deaths were reported among COVID-19 patients taking a combination of its rheumatoid arthritis drug and Gilead Sciences Inc's remdesivir in a clinical trial, compared to only remdesivir.

Lilly said the effect was most pronounced in patients on oxygen therapy, according to data from a US government-backed trial, which however, was not designed to measure the effectiveness of baricitinib in preventing death.

In-line with data disclosed in September, the combination helped shorten the median recovery time by one day compared to remdesivir, meeting the study's main goal.

Lilly said 5.1 percent of patients on the drug combination died after 29 days versus 7.8 percent patients given remdesivir, which is already authorized in the US for treating COVID-19 patients, and a placebo.

Baricitinib, licensed by Lilly from Incyte Corp and approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis in the United States, could help suppress a potentially lethal immune response to COVID-19 called "cytokine storm".

Lilly said it was in talks with the US Food and Drug Administration to gain emergency use authorization for treating COVID-19 patients.