Gilead stock surges 15% after report says coronavirus drug trial shows encouraging early results

A Gilead Sciences office is shown in Foster City, California, U.S. May 1, 2018.

Stephen Lam | Reuters

Gilead Sciences shares surged by more than 15% in after-hours trading Thursday after details leaked of a closely watched clinical trial of the company’s antiviral drug Remdesivir appeared to show promising results in treating Covid-19.

The University of Chicago’s phase 3 drug trial found that most of its patients had “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms” and were discharged in less than a week, health-care publication STAT News reported. 

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” University of Chicago infectious disease specialist Kathleen Mullane said, according to STAT News, which obtained a video of her remarks. 

Gilead didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 patients with the virus into Gilead’s two late-stage clinical trials, 113 of them were severely ill.

There are no proven therapies to treat Covid-19, which has infected more than 2 million worldwide as of Thursday night, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. President Donald Trump has touted Remdesivir and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as “very exciting,” even though the drugs haven’t yet been proven as effective treatments against the coronavirus.

The drug has shown some promise against SARS and MERS, which are also caused by coronaviruses. Some health authorities in the U.S., China and other parts of the world have been using Remdesivir, which was tested as a possible treatment for the Ebola outbreak, in hopes that the drug can reduce the duration of the virus in patients.

Clinical trial results involving patients with severe cases of the virus is expected this month, while data testing patients with moderate symptoms is expected in May.

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