BLOOMFIELD, Conn., April 9, 2020 -- To accelerate research for a COVID-19 treatment, Cigna is providing medications to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to initiate a clinical trial that will evaluate antimalarial and antibiotic treatments for COVID-19. The researchers plan to enroll 500 patients, over the course of the study, hospitalized with the novel coronavirus at Barnes - Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO.
"Finding a proven treatment for COVID-19 is the most pressing global public health priority," said Dr. Steve Miller, MD, Chief Clinical Officer, Cigna. "Through our close collaboration with Washington University, we can help fast-track this effort."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted emergency approval for hospitals to use antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. The Washington University School of Medicine has implemented a pilot trial investigating the use of these medications in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin to identify the most effective combinations and dosages that will decrease the severity and duration of respiratory symptoms and speed recovery for COVID-19 patients.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are oral prescription drugs approved to treat malaria and other diseases. Anecdotal reports and in vitro trials suggest these drugs might be useful in treating coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but definitive evidence is needed.
"There have been only a few small studies that have evaluated chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19, and the results are unclear," said Infectious Disease Specialist, Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, who is co-leading the trial. "Our goal is to determine if any of these medications, alone or in combination, decrease the severity or duration of respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19."
Preliminary data could be available as early as six weeks.
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