Learn about some of the advanced drugs being studied by the biggest pharma names out there to end the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the most devastating global pandemics has led to a pharmaceutical race to identify the treatment the world needs.
In the months since the global spread of COVID-19, scientists and researchers have launched various efforts to find an effective drug to combat the virus.
The world has turned its attention toward finding a vaccine for the virus, which had claimed the lives of over 700,000 people by August, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, previously said.
Coronavirus treatment stocks: Major companies take action
Alongside group efforts from nations and world agencies, work is being done by pharmaceutical corporations attempting to find a verifiable drug to detain the virus.
Leading the charge are some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. These companies have the capital support and expertise to take a drug all the way in the approval process.
The timeline for a cure is tricky to pin down as drug development is known to be a long, arduous and costly process in regular circumstances. However, given the emergency status of the coronavirus, companies seem encouraged and optimistic about their projections.
In May, CNBC reported that pharmaceutical company Pfizer (NASDAQ:PFE) was working toward a scale-up in the production of millions of doses, and planned to have them ready before the end of the year, with hundreds of millions done by next year. But this all still depends on trials and approvals.
The experimental vaccine from Pfizer, being worked in collaboration with Germany-based biotech company BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), has been met with encouraging signs. Pfizer previously said it is hoping for a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency approval by October.
Coronavirus treatment stock Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) has a coronavirus vaccine that is constructed similarly to that of Pfizer. This drug has also shown promise when used for patients with the virus. A Phase 3 trial for this vaccine candidate, known as mRNA-1273, started in July.
The Canadian government signed a deal with both Pfizer and Moderna to secure access to millions of doses for both of the experimental vaccines.
Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), a biopharmaceutical company, has earned a lot of attention for its antiviral drug remdesivir and the success it has shown in helping recovering patients. In fact, remdesivir seems so promising that Pfizer will throw its support behind the production of the drug.
“From the beginning it was clear that no one company or innovation would be able to bring an end to the Covid-19 crisis,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bouria said in an announcement confirming the collaboration.
In May, the FDA gave emergency approval to remdesivir as a potential coronavirus treatment.
“The seamless cooperation between government and private industry under the President’s all-of-America approach to COVID-19 is getting treatment options to patients in record time,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at the time of the approval.
Remdesivir was given the special approval since there were no better options available and its encouraging signs were too good to pass up for the FDA. “The known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus currently outweigh the known and potential risks of the drug’s use,” the federal agency indicated.
In an open letter, Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said the company elected to offer its drug at a price below the estimated value. “To ensure broad and equitable access at a time of urgent global need, we have set a price for governments of developed countries of US$390 per vial,” he said.
According to the executive, the vast majority of patients will receive a five day treatment course requiring six of these vials, resulting in a cost of US$2,340 per patient.
Biotech heavyweight Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), another coronavirus treatment stock, has also found itself in a leading position when it comes to promising developments. REGN-COV2, its antibody treatment, launched a critical Phase 3 trial with humans in July.
The trial is being run simultaneously in 100 locations with approximately 2,000 patients. In addition to this trial, the company confirmed additional international tests for its drug as a way to move faster in trying to beat the coronavirus.
Coronavirus treatment stocks: Investor takeaway
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused an emergency economic standstill, adding pressure to the need for companies to develop a proper coronavirus vaccine.
As research studies continue and partnerships form between big-name pharma giants, investors will have to monitor the trials and approval indications for all treatments.
In the race to find a viable solution for the virus, it is also clear that no matter how promising a drug may be, its trial process will still require an appropriate time to be approved and developed.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.