Scientists find two-drug combo that treats COVID-19 effectively

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In a recent study at the University of Nebraska and elsewhere, researchers found that a combination of baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory drug, and remdesivir, an antiviral, reduced time to recovery for people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral treatment developed by Gilead Sciences, Inc. Baricitinib was discovered by Incyte and licensed to Eli Lilly and Company, and marketed under the brand name Olumiant.

It is approved in more than 70 countries as a treatment for adults with moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis.

In the study, the team hypothesized that because many severe symptoms of COVID-19 are caused by a poorly regulated inflammatory response, a therapeutic designed to target inflammation could be helpful for patients.

They tested a total of 1,033 volunteer participants at sites in eight countries.

The researchers found the combination of baricitinib and remdesivir reduced time to recovery in hospitalized COVID-19 patients from eight days to seven days.

Patients who required high-flow oxygen or non-invasive ventilation during their hospitalization appeared to have had the largest benefit: their time to recovery was shortened from 18 days to ten days.

In addition, participants’ conditions at day 15 of the study were strongly improved when they received the two therapeutics combined.

Recipients of the two treatments also had slightly fewer serious side effects.

The researchers caution that comparing this COVID-19 treatment regimen versus those with other therapeutics, such as dexamethasone, is difficult without additional comparison studies.

These results do appear to show that baricitinib plus remdesivir can benefit some COVID-19 patients and the combination deserves further clinical study.

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