NEW YORK, Apr 9 (Reuters) – US pharmacist Pfizer said Thursday that early data has helped it identify a drug with the potential to help treat patients infected with the new coronavirus.
The company also said it plans to expand studies to determine whether Pfizer’s existing medications, including its rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz, may provide benefits for those infected with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
More than a dozen major drug makers, including Pfizer, have announced plans in recent months to develop coronavirus vaccines and treatments, though few, if any, are likely to reach patients in time to stop the current pandemic. Pfizer Inc. first revealed plans to develop an antiviral compound for COVID-19 in March, and later said it was working with BioNTech SE on an experimental vaccine based on messenger RNA technology. “Pfizer has mobilized resources and capabilities to address each of the borders of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pfizer research chief Mikael Dolsten told Reuters in an interview. Preclinical study data shows that a compound that was originally developed to treat SARS – a distinct coronavirus causing a major epidemic in 2003 – has the potential to treat patients for the new coronavirus, Dolsten said. Pfizer said it will conduct additional preclinical studies and aims to begin human testing in the third quarter of 2020. Other treatments for COVID-19 compounds for rheumatoid arthritis are also being studied as possible treatments by other rheumatoid arthritis manufacturers. different than Xeljanz.
(Report by Carl O’Donnell. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo and Andrea Ariet)