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GSK tests experimental drug to treat pneumonia from COVID-19

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

(Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline has started a trial to test an experimental rheumatoid arthritis drug on patients suffering from COVID-19 related pneumonia, after screening its drugs for potential in the fight against the coronavirus.

Drug otilimab - in which GSK acquired rights from German biotech firm Morphosys in 2013 - may possibly ease the devastating effect of the virus on the lungs, while not suppressing the virus directly, a company spokesman said.

For the study, about 800 patients with severe pulmonary COVID-19 related disease will receive either otilimab or placebo, according to website ClinicalTrials.gov.

Initial results are expected towards the end of 2020 and if promising, GSK would eye regulatory filings next year, the GSK spokesman said.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)