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Gilead Increases Enrollment Target, Pharma Rally Continues

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Ritujay Ghosh
·4 min read
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On Apr 17, Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD increased its enrollment target by 3,600 for the trial testing of its experimental drug remdesivir in severe coronavirus infected patents. The news comes a day after media reports said that the drugmaker’s experimental drug was showing positive results in a large number of patients admitted in a Chicago hospital.

This saw shares of Gilead rallying on Apr 17. Although the FDA hasn’t approved any drug or treatment for COVID-19, a number of companies are speeding up development of vaccines for the fast-spreading virus that has taken more than 161,000 lives globally.

Gilead Shows Hope

According to clinicaltrials.gov, a register of clinical trials, Gilead increased the enrollment estimate for the trial run to 6,000 patients from 2,400. Per a Reuters report, the idea behind the increase is likely to widen access to the experimental drug remdisivir and collect additional data on it.

The drugmaker had earlier said that it was shifting from a system of individual compassionate-use requests to expanded access programs. A day earlier, Gilead had said that the totality of the data from the trial needs to be analyzed. The company expects the result from the study in COVID-19 patients by the end of this month and the data from other trials in May.

Shares of Gilead rallied 9.7% on Friday, a day after media reports claimed severe coronavirus patients were responding positively to remdesivir. According to STAT, a new health-oriented news website, a large number of COVID-19 patients at a Chicago hospital being treated with this antiviral medication for trial have recovered and were discharged in a less than a week.

Search for Vaccine Continues

The last couple of months have seen pharmaceutical companies making every effort to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Many big players have also collaborated to expedite research and development for a vaccine.

While expectations are that developing a vaccine could take as long as 12 to 18 months, many pharmaceutical companies have decided to delay initiation of most of their new clinical studies and stop enrollment in ongoing studies to reduce the burden on the healthcare system and allow doctors and healthcare facilities to focus on efforts to combat COVID-19.

Last week, pharmaceutical giants Sanofi SNY and GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK joined forces to accelerate development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Both drugmakers expect to start initial clinical tests of the vaccine prototype in the second half of the year. Shares of Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have gained 5.8%, 22.7% and 14.6%, respectively in the past 30 days. Each of the stocks carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Also, Moderna, Inc. MRNA recently announced that it has begun a phase 1 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, enrolling subjects at the highest dose. The company already drew attention after it received funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus.

Amgen, Inc. AMGN collaborated with Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation ADPT to discover and develop antibodies that can be used to treat and prevent coronavirus. Shares of Moderna have jumped 48.4% in the last one month, while Adaptive and Amgen have gained 49.4% and 14.7%, respectively. Moderna, Adaptive and Amgen each has a Zacks Rank #3.

Last month, Dynavax Technologies Corporation DVAX entered into a partnership with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to fight the Wuhan coronavirus. Dynavax will make the company’s proprietary toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist adjuvant, CpG 1018, available for the development of effective vaccines against COVID-19. Shares of Dynavax, which carries a Zacks Rank #1, have jumped 12.2% over the past 30 days.

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Click to get this free report Sanofi (SNY) : Free Stock Analysis Report Dynavax Technologies Corporation (DVAX) : Free Stock Analysis Report Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) : Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) : Free Stock Analysis Report GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) : Free Stock Analysis Report Amgen Inc. (AMGN) : Free Stock Analysis Report Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation (ADPT) : Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research