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COVID-19 round-up: WHO pulls hydroxychloroquine study, UK restricts dexamethasone exports, and more

Updates on drug treatments as lockdown restrictions are eased around the world

World Health Organization

The WHO pulls its hydroxychloroquine study

The World Health Organization (WHO) has halted the hydroxychloroquine arm of its SOLIDARITY trial of potential coronavirus treatments – for the second time – following the failure of the drug to show any benefit in the University of Oxford’s RECOVERY trial and another US study of the drug in post-exposure prophylaxis.

The WHO had previously halted the hydroxychloroquine arm of its trial after another study raised red flags over the drug’s safety, and specifically an elevated risk of blood clotting among patients treated with the drug, although that finding has since been called into question. The latest decision comes in part from data generated within the SOLIDARITY trial itself, according to the agency.

The UK moves to secure its dexamethasone supply as use of the drug rolls out for COVID-19 across the NHS

The UK government is restricting exports of the generic steroid dexamethasone to avoid shortages, following a clinical trial showing it can reduce the death rate in people who are seriously ill with COVID-19. The move comes after the approval of the drug earlier this week by the Department for Health and Social Care to treat all UK hospitalised patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.

Some healthcare campaigners have criticised the action, but the government says the block only applies to the export of drugs that are intended to remain in the UK, and is designed to stop profiteering by parallel traders, who buy and repackage drugs to sell on at a higher price in other countries.

Gilead starts paediatric trials of remdesivir

Gilead Sciences says it will carry out a trial of its antiviral drug remdesivir in children with COVID-19, following “concerning reports” that some young people infected with the virus go on to develop serious and life-threatening inflammatory reactions. The open-label phase 2/3 trial will involve around 50 subjects – from newborns to adolescents – who will be recruited at more than 30 clinical centres across the US and Europe.

Children are generally thought to be less likely to develop severe COVID-19 after exposure to the new coronavirus, but the occurrence of more severe cases has prompted Gilead to test whether benefits seen in remdesivir trials involving adults translate to the paediatric setting. Remdesivir is currently the only drug with emergency use authorisation to treat COVID-19 in the US after the FDA pulled approval for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine earlier this week.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th June 2020

From: Research

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