A patient in Indianapolis who was diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 is the first person in a global study to be evaluated for the effectiveness of a rheumatoid arthritis medication against the respiratory disease.
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) says the FDA-approved drug baricitinib, which is marketed as Olumiant, is now entering a phase 3 clinical trial.
The company expects to enroll 400 patients who are hospitalized with the disease which is caused by the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.
“Lilly is committed to fighting this global pandemic, and this includes testing whether existing medicines including baricitinib could help treat the complications of COVID-19 in patients,” said Patrik Jonsson, Lilly senior vice president and president of Lilly Bio-Medicines. “This randomized controlled study is an important step in our understanding of baricitinib as a potential COVID-19 treatment.”
Researchers will evaluate if the drug might have not only an antiviral impact but also an anti-inflammatory effect on COVID-19 patients whose immune systems may be compromised.
The study will be conducted in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and includes patients hospitalized with the infection but do not require a mechanical ventilator.
Lilly is working with Community Health Network in Indianapolis, which is one of the first sites taking part in the study.
“While the approach to addressing COVID-19 continues to evolve, we’re pleased to partner with Lilly in this trial to assess baricitinib’s potential in the fight against COVID-19 and look forward to learning more about its impact on patients,” said Dr. Patrick Milligan of Community Health Network.
The drug is approved in 70 countries as a treatment for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis.
Lilly says data from this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study is expected in the next few months.