Gilead's coronavirus drug fails in first trial, several patients suffer significant side effects

A biopharmaceutical company has had to suspend it's coronavirus drug after draft documents were published accidentally by the World Health Organization.

There is also speculation that Gilead Sciences Inc's halted its first trial after several patients suffered significant side effects. Though the company has said it is due to low enrollment.

A statement released by the company said that information from the first clinical study evaluating the antiviral remdesivir in patients with severe Covid-19 disease in China was prematurely posted on the World Health Organization website.

It added: "This information has since been removed, as the study investigators did not provide permission for the publication of the results.

"Furthermore, we believe the post included inappropriate characterisations of the study. The study was terminated early due to low enrollment and, as a result, did not enable us to obtain statistically meaningful conclusions."

Trading in the shares of the company was halted after they fell six percent.

The Chinese trial showed the antiviral drug remdesivir did not improve patients' condition or reduce the pathogen's presence in the bloodstream, the report said.

Researchers studied 237 patients, giving the drug to 158 and comparing their progress with the remaining 79. The drug also showed significant side effects in some, which meant 18 patients were taken off it, it has been reported.

Interest in Gilead's drug had been high as there are currently no approved treatments or preventive vaccines for Covid-19.

The company is testing the drug in multiple trials, and highly anticipated trial results from a study involving 400 patients hospitalised with severe cases of the illness are expected later this month.

The statement said there are multiple ongoing phase 3 studies that have been designed to provide the additional data needed to determine the potential for remdesivir as a treatment for the virus.

"These studies will help inform whom to treat, when to treat and how long to treat with remdesivir. The studies are either fully enrolled for the primary analysis or on track to fully enroll in the near future."

Gilead said it expects to share results at the end of this month adding that the randomised clinical trial is fully enrolled and will compare treatment outcomes and safety following 5 or 10 days of remdesivir treatment.

Remdesivir, which previously failed as a treatment for Ebola, is being tried against Covid-19 because it is designed to disable the mechanism by which certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, make copies of themselves and potentially overwhelm their host's immune system.