U.S. Markets closed

Remdesivir Progresses on Coronavirus Trial: Pharma Upbeat

Ritujay Ghosh

Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD on Apr 29 said that preliminary results of its experimental coronavirus candidate remdesivir’s trial showed optimistic results. At least 50% of the patients administered with the drug showed improvement, while more than half were cured and discharged from the hospital within two weeks. Following this development, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the drug trial testing brought “quite good news” and sets a new standard of treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Gilead’s shares rallied on the news, closing the day up 5.7%. A large number of biotech companies have been working on developing drugs and vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 3,100,000 and claimed 227,000 lives. Also, pharmaceutical giants are going for partnerships to speed up development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Gilead Shows the Way

Gilead Sciences said that preliminary results of its COVID-19 drug trial showed half of the patients with five-day dosage of the antiviral drug improved over the days. The remaining 50% were cured and discharged from the hospital within two weeks.

The study was carried out on two groups of patients severely affected by COVID-19. The first group received a five-day dosage of remdesivir, while the second group was administered a 10-day dosage of the drug. Of the total patients discharged, 64.5% belonged to the first group, while 53.8% were from the second group. Gilead has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company’s shares have gained 14.1% over the past 30 days.

Preliminary results from a U.S. government trial also showed that patients administered remdesivir recovered 31% faster than those given a placebo. A number of studies are ongoing to test if remdesivir is effective in stopping the virus from replicating.

Biotech Companies Speed Up R&D

A number of drugmakers and biotech companies are initiating development of drugs, vaccine and therapies to get a grip over the fast-spreading virus. Substantial progress has been made over the past month, with many pharmaceuticalcompanies coming up with impressive reports.

Earlier this week, German pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. PFE, which is working in collaboration with BioNTech SE BNTX, said that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready for emergency use as early as September. The companies said that they have begun human trials of the potential vaccine, BNT162, on Apr 23 in Germany. Pfizer and BioNTech each carries a Zacks #3. Pfizer’s shares have gained 23.4% in the past month. BioNTech’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 28.4%.

Sanofi SNY and GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK have also joined forces to expedite the development of a vaccine for the Wuhan virus. Sanofi recently said that if successful, the vaccine would be available in the second half of 2021. Sanofi carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), while GlaxoSmithKline has a Zacks Rank #3. Shares of Sanofi have gained 15.5% in the past one month. GlaxoSmithKline’s shares have jumped 14.8% over the past 30 days. 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. Moderna sports a Zacks Rank #1.

Eli Lily Company LLY and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN are also rapidly developing a treatment based on antibodies present in the blood of patients who’ve recovered from COVID-19. Eli Lily sports a Zacks Rank #1, while Regeneron has a Zacks Rank #3. Shares of Eli Lily have increased 15.7%, Regeneron has witnessed an increase of 14.8% over the past 30 days.

Earlier this month, Amgen, Inc. AMGN collaborated with Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation ADPT to discover and develop antibodies that can be used to treat and prevent the coronavirus. The collaboration brings together Adaptive’s immune medicine platform for the identification of virus-neutralizing antibodies with Amgen’s expertise in immunology and novel antibody therapy development. Both Amgen and Adaptive currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 each. Amgen has gained 18.9% in the past one month, while Adaptive’s shares have rallied 28.1%.

Today’s Best Stocks from Zacks

Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2019, while the S&P 500 gained and impressive +53.6%, five of our strategies returned +65.8%, +97.1%, +118.0%, +175.7% and even +186.7%.