Gilead Sciences shares slide after antiviral drug remdesivir fails first trial

The US-based biotechnology company saw its shares tumble after potential antiviral drug to treat coronavirus fails first clinical trial.

Gilead Sciences shares closed 4% lower on Thursday, with the stock capable of falling further in early morning trading on Friday, after the company’s antiviral drug to treat coronavirus failed its first clinical trial.

The news disappointed both the scientific and investment communities, with both groups hoping that the drug, remdesivir, would be effective in fighting Covid-19, but according to draft documents accidentally published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the antiviral drug is a flop.

The Chinese trial showed that remdesivir failed to improve patients condition or reduce pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream, with the drug even showing significant side effects in some test subjects.

The clinical trial studied 237 patients, with 158 given the drug, while the remaining 79 served as the control group.

Gilead Sciences share price closed at $77.78 per share on Thursday, with the stock trading marginally lower in pre-market trading, suggesting it could fall further early in the session on Friday.

Despite the setback, the stock is still outperforming the broader market, with it up 19% year-to-date, while the S&P 500 is down 14% over the same period.

WHO admits draft document was published in error

The WHO said the draft document, which is undergoing peer review, was published early in error.

‘In response to WHO asking for information and studies to be shared early, a draft document was provided by the authors to WHO and inadvertently posted on the website and taken down as soon as the mistake was noticed,’ the organisation said in a statement.

Following the WHO’s comments, Gilead Sciences was quick to point out that the draft document also included ‘inappropriate characterisations of the study’.

‘Importantly, because this study was terminated early due to low enrolment, it was underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions,’ Gilead Sciences said in a statement.

‘As such, the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.’

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