A treatment? We have all been following the story of Remdesivir, the drug that Gilead Sciences (GILD) had developed years ago, without much success for the fight against Ebola. Many had hoped that perhaps this candidate might be a useful therapeutic in the global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. Oh, how nice it would be, for folks to go about a day's work, or run the necessary family errands without thinking that maybe they were risking their lives. To not wonder why that guy over there, just can't cover his face, or stay not six, but 12 feet away. Back the heck up, buddy. You can look at the frozen veggies after I grab my peas. I waited for the lady ahead of me to move on.
Two Press Releases
Within minutes, Gilead Sciences posted two press releases on Wednesday morning. You might have been paying attention to something else at the time, but surely you did notice that most of our equity index futures snapped top attention and saluted at that time. We all know that vaccines take time, and we even knew that should Remdesivir prove effective, it would have to go into mass production and maybe evolve into a consumer friendly form. At least though, there is already a blueprint for the drug. Gilead is not starting from scratch here.
Recall, that only recently we had heard positive and then negative results from studies at the University of Chicago followed by an under-enrolled study out of China. Enter Wednesday. First, Gilead announced that the firm was aware of positive data emerging from a clinical study done at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). According to this study the trial had met its primary endpoint, and that the NIAID would release more detailed information at a later briefing.
Secondly, the firm announced top-line results from a Phase 3 SIMPLE trial evaluating 5 day and 10 day dosing durations of the Remdesivir treatment in hospital settings for patients with severe manifestations of Covid-19. From this study, the time to clinical improvement for 50% of patients was 10 days in the 5 day grouping, while this period took 11 days in the 10 day group. More than half of patients from both groups were discharged from the hospital by Day 14. By that day, 64.5% of those receiving the 5 day treatment and 53.8% of those receiving the 10 day treatment achieved what can be termed "clinical recovery."
In addition, it does appear that those patients receiving this treatment within the first 10 days of the onset of symptoms recover better than those receiving treatment later. Importantly, according to the study, the drug was well tolerated. Ten percent of 5 day patients experienced nausea, while 6% did suffer acute respiratory failure. 7.3% of patients also saw liver enzyme levels rise, with 3% having to be removed from the program for that reason.
What This Means To Me
Now I am no doctor. I do invest and I do trade. I am long Gilead Sciences, but the fact is that the firm is not trying to make money off of Remdesivir at this point. The positivity created by the potential for the improved ability of medical professionals to treat this disease many months ahead of the earliest possible vaccine is a market story, as it is an "economy" story as much as anything else.
You need folks to behave "normally"? You need folks to trust that they can squeeze onto a subway car. You need folks to enter into businesses either as laborers or consumers and do what they came for without hesitation. You need that family to drive somewhere nice this summer for a week. Put plainly, the velocity of money has to return.
I drew a pitchfork for readers back on March 13th when conditions were still getting scarier by the day. Not that they are still not scary if one lives somewhere where this disease really got hot. As viewers will see, the Pitchfork is as valid today as it was more than six weeks ago. My pivot for now remains the central trend line, while support appears to have come more at the 50 day SMA (now $74.76) than it has at the lower trend line. Still, it is easy to see that the stock has traded within the lower chamber. Fact is, from my point of view, $86 gives you $92. Without $86, this stock is a trader. That said, we are all rooting for Gilead in this venture. More data, on a clinical trial aimed at patients with moderate cases of the disease are due in May.
One Last Thing
This pertains to the length of the regimen used in the trials. Gilead's Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey said in a release this morning... "The study demonstrates the potential for some patients to be treated with a 5 day regimen, which could significantly expand the number of patients who could be treated with out current supply of Remdesivir. This is particularly important in the setting of a pandemic."
Huge folks. That's huge.