Published: 29 May 2020
A new treatment is available to patients in the NHS following the successful results of trials being conducted in the UK using the anti-viral drug remdesivir.
Two international clinical trials using remdesivir, produced by Gilead Sciences Inc, are being supported and delivered by NIHR via the research network in the NHS. The early results of these trials have proven the drug to be clinically effective in the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19.
Data shows that use of the drug can shorten the time to recovery by about four days. An assessment by The Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) together with scientific opinion from MHRA, support remdesivir to be used by selected NHS patients - who meet certain clinical criteria - in supporting their recovery in hospital.
These trials opened to recruitment at the end of March and are part of the coordinated national approach by the UK Government to support the early phase development of potential new treatments for COVID-19.
One of the roles of the NIHR, is to ensure that innovative trials and studies are set up efficiently and delivered effectively to ensure maximum patient benefit. This is particularly important to life sciences research and why the NIHR has a dedicated service for this sector - the NIHR Study Support Service for the Life Sciences Industry.
The remdesivir trials were set up in the NHS at a particularly rapid pace in just 12 days, and 239 patients have been recruited onto the studies being delivered across 26 hospitals across England.
Dr Andrew Ustianowski, Chief Investigator on the delivery of these studies says:
“The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high-quality research through the NHS and other settings. This established Network has enabled us to respond fast to such a critically important situation to deliver studies that are exploring potential treatments.
“The early results of these trials are encouraging and represent a significant step forward in our collective effort to find treatments which help patients with COVID-19 recover faster.
“I would like to thank every person who has consented to participate in this vital research and indeed the other Urgent Public Health studies being delivered in response to COVID-19. Your involvement is making an invaluable difference.”
William van’t Hoff Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR Clinical Research Network says:
“We are delighted to have played a key part in supporting Gilead Sciences in bringing their COVID-19 research to the UK, providing early access to key potential treatments for patients in the fight against this disease. The NIHR’s capability to support research at any NHS site across the whole country, provides a unique platform for research in the UK and means we are able to deliver the best evidence for health research through trials and rapid translation, a system unrivalled anywhere else in the world.
“The importance of a national research system has been proven during COVID-19, when we have been able to offer rapid and high recruitment to vital life-sciences studies offering potential treatments. These results reflect the willingness of patients to participate, the hard work of NIHR teams and the close integration we have with the NHS.”