The China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing will begin clinical trials on 270 mildly and moderately ill patients infected with the novel coronavirus using an experimental drug from the United States claimed to have successfully treated a case in the US.
The Phase III clinical trial will run from Feb 3 to April 27. It is administered by doctor Cao Bin from the Beijing hospital and the trial will be carried out in Wuhan, Hubei province, epicenter of the outbreak, the hospital said in an online statement on Sunday.
The drug in trial is called remdesivir, developed by US biotech company Gilead Sciences. The medicine was given to the first US case, a 35-year old man who tested positive for the virus, whose pneumonia symptoms appeared to improve within a day with no obvious side effects after the drug was administered, according to a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week.
The drugmaker said in an online statement on Friday the drug is "not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective for any use". However, the drug was approved for use on compassionate grounds and the request of physicians, it added.
At the same time, the company said it is working with health authorities in China to establish a clinical trial to determine whether remdesivir can safely and effectively be used to treat the coronavirus.
The Center for Drug Evaluation of the National Medical Products Administration in China has received and approved the application on Sunday to carry out the experiment, according to its official website.