Coronavirus patients worldwide rush to join experimental drug studies

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The new coronavirus made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital. His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumonia-choked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts General’s intensive care unit.

When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that’s shown promise against some other coronaviruses, “it did not even cross my mind once to say `no,”’ said Singh, a heart specialist.

Coronavirus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks.

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Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The drug’s maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies, too.

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“I would enrol my family in a heartbeat” if the need arose, said Dr. Libby Hohmann, who placed Singh and nearly 30 others in the NIH one at Mass General. To have no approved medicines for COVID-19 now is “kind of terrifying,” she said.

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