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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

New More Carefully Controlled Study Shows That Buzzy Malaria Drug Might Not Actually Help In Fighting Coronavirus

KHN Morning Briefing

The study shows the importance of doing carefully controlled research despite increasing anxiety over finding a treatment. Scientists say that doesn’t mean the malaria drug doesn’t work, but that people shouldn’t be looking at it as a magical cure. Meanwhile, a conservative business group founded by a prolific Republican political donor is pressuring the White House to greenlight the treatment anyway.

Gilead Rescinds Orphan Drug Status Request For Potential Coronavirus Treatment Amid Exploitation Outcry

KHN Morning Briefing

The drugmaker had applied for the status for its experimental drug remdesivir–and was it granted by the FDA–because the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is still under 200,000. The designation would have granted Gilead lucrative perks, including the ability to keep cheaper versions off the market for years. “Gilead must have been feeling the heat,”James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International told NPR. “I think it’s embarrassing to take something that’s potentially the most widespread disease in the history of the pharmaceutical industry and claim it’s a rare disease.”

FDA Approves Treatment That Would Let Doctors Inject Patients With Plasma From Those Recovered From Virus

KHN Morning Briefing

FDA stressed that “convalescent plasma has not been shown to be effective in every disease studied.” But it is a century-old treatment that has shown results against other diseases. “We won’t know until we do it, but the historical evidence is encouraging,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University. In other news, the slow mutation rate of the SARS-CoV-2 virus prompts optimism for a future vaccine.

Health Officials Try To Tamp Down Excitement Over Potential Treatments As Both Doctors And Public Hoard Malaria Drugs

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump sparked a surge of interest in an old malaria treatment that might be showing promising results in treating COVID-19, causing a rush on the drug. But scientists and experts warn that any drug needs to be tested to prove its safety, and that process could take months. Meanwhile, Roche hopes its arthritis medication will show results in patients with coronavirus.

Vaccine May Be Available In Limited Supply To Some Health Care Workers As Early As The Fall

KHN Morning Briefing

Experts have consistently said it will likely take at least a year before any vaccine could be deployed widely, but Moderna officials said their version might be available under emergency-use authorization sooner than that. And after President Donald Trump touted the promising results of a malaria medication, there was a run on the drug and those who need it for reasons other than the coronavirus are facing shortages. Meanwhile, a man in Arizona died after taking the drug, highlighting the risk of promising miracle cures.

Gilead Halts Emergency Access To Remdesivir Amid Surging Demand; Scientists Identify 69 Drugs That Might Work

KHN Morning Briefing

Gilead’s experimental drug remdesivir has shown promising results and been made available for compassionate use in critical cases. But the drugmaker is unable to meet the surging demand. Meanwhile, media outlets examine some of the drugs President Donald Trump touts as treatments that might help in the efforts to curb the pandemic. One of the medications is used by lupus patients–who now face shortages of their needed drug.

Trump Touts Malaria Drug As Possible Virus Treatment But FDA Strikes More Cautious Tone

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump put the spotlight on potential treatments that are showing some promising results, but FDA Commissioner reiterated the importance of not giving people “false hope.” Experts say that in times of crisis, it’s tempting to want to cut corners and move as fast as possible, but science moves at the pace it does for a reason: patient safety. Meanwhile, the company who makes the drug the president touted instituted a price hike in January that nearly doubled the cost. But its officials have since cut the cost again.

WHO Launches Global Solidarity Project To Ramp Up Clinical Trials For Coronavirus Drugs

KHN Morning Briefing

“Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Scientists around the world have been racing around the clock to come up with treatments, even as a promising drug fails to show results. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump considered an executive order to expand the use of drugs in coronavirus patients, but FDA scientists objected over safety concerns. And health officials push back on rumors the ibuprofen could worsen the symptoms.

As Researchers Frantically Hunt For Treatment, Pharma Companies Wonder If Arthritis Drug Will Do The Trick

KHN Morning Briefing

A very small study showed promising results with a drug that’s similar to the Sanofi and Regeneron drug, called Kevzara, that treats arthritis. Several patients in the study “got out of death’s bed and walked out of the hospital” after receiving Actemra, said a Regeneron scientist. The race for a treatment has sent pharma into a tizzy to be the first to strike on something that works. Meanwhile, other labs are working on creating an effective vaccine.