US to test benefits of remdesivir with second drug

The U.S. has begun the third phase of its remdesivir study, testing the antiviral drug's effectiveness in treating COVID-19 when taken alongside beta interferon, another antiviral and anti-inflammatory drug.

During the trial, 1,000 COVID-19 patients will receive either remdesivir and a placebo or remdesivir and beta interferon. 

Remdesivir, which is manufactured by Gilead, will be administered by intravenous infusion. The placebos and beta interferon, which is manufactured by Merck and approved to treat multiple sclerosis in the U.S. and more than 90 other countries, will be administered by injection.

The National Institutes of Health-sponsored remdesivir trial launched its first phase Feb. 21, testing remdesivir against a placebo. The NIH reported preliminary data April 27 suggesting that the drug shortened patients' recovery times slightly but did not reduce death rates. 

The second phase, which began May 8 and has not had its results issued, tested remdesivir and a placebo against remdesivir and baricitinib, and anti-inflammatory arthritis drug. The NIH announced the third phase Aug. 6.

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