Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. announced Thursday that it has identified a drug candidate that could help treat coronavirus patients.
The company hopes to start testing on humans this summer to prove the early findings that the experimental drug could slow or stop the spread of the virus in patients.
Pfizer also will start testing its rheumatoid-arthritis drug Xeljanz on coronavirus patients in Italy to see if it will help with the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
“I feel confident that we will win, battle by battle, to turn around this viral war against our society,” Pfizer research-and-development chief Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Wall Street Journal.
The company announced a five-point plan to confront the virus by collaborating with outside companies on researching, developing and manufacturing treatments among other things, Reuters reported.
“Pfizer has mobilized resources and capabilities to address every single frontier of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dolsten said.
The company is conducting two studies with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to better understand the relationship between the novel coronavirus and pneumonia.
Pfizer is also working with BioNTech on developing a vaccine based on messenger RNA technology. The company has invested $185 million upfront and can boost its total investment to nearly $750 million.
It is not the only pharmaceutical company racing against the clock to try to find drugs and vaccines to help coronavirus patients.
According to The Wall Street Journal, over 140 therapies and vaccines are in development worldwide.
However, one doctor is advising people to slow down as a result of his memories of untested drugs being given to suffering Ebola patients from 2014 to 2016.
“Many drugs we believed were fantastic ended up killing people,” Dr. Andre Kalil told The New York Times. “It is so hard to keep explaining that.”
He pointed to remdesivir, the first treatment drug to be evaluated that was given to COVID-19 patients for “compassionate use.”
“I would never give this or any other experimental drug off-label to my patients,” Kalil said.
“There is nothing compassionate about compassionate use,” he said. “You are treating emotion.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there were over 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and more than 93,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
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