Back to top

Image: Shutterstock

Gilead's (GILD) Coronavirus Drug Shows Promise, Shares Gain

Read MoreHide Full Article

Shares of Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) are trading 12% up in after-market hours following promising early data, per a report on the company’s experimental antiviral remdesivir.

Per STAT, treatment with Gilead’s remdesivir showed rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 patients in a closely watched study in a Chicago hospital. Nearly all of these patients were discharged in less than a week.

The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 patients suffering from COVID-19 in two phase III studies by Gilead. Of these, 113 had severe disease. All patients were treated with daily infusions of remdesivir. While two patients died, most of the others were discharged.

Results showed that fever started subsiding in most patients with the initiation of the treatment. Patients were off ventilators a day after starting the therapy.

While these are still early days and additional data will be required for better understanding, investors cheered the news.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for the severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. Given the alarming levels of spread and severity, some approved drugs or pipeline candidates are being tested to see if these are effective in treating the infected patients.

Among these, Gilead’s remdesivir has shown a lot of promise and, in turn, has garnered global interest. As a result, the company has become a hot stock, of late.

Gilead’s shares have gained 17.8% this year so far against the industry’s decline of 2.1%.

Earlier, the company announced promising results from a cohort analysis of 53 patients hospitalized with severe complications of COVID-19, who were treated with remdesivir on an individual compassionate use basis. The majority of patients in this international cohort demonstrated clinical improvement and no new safety signals were identified with the treatment. However, compassionate use data have limitations and multiple phase III studies are ongoing to determine the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in the treatment of COVID-19.

Currently, Gilead is conducting two phase III studies on remdesivir — the SIMPLE studies — in countries with a higher prevalence of COVID-19.

As remdesivir has shown promising results in infected patients, the stock will remain in the spotlight since the pandemic is unlikely to die out soon. A positive outcome from any of these studies will be a significant boost for Gilead, which is a leader in antiviral therapies.

Apart from Gilead, other biotechs are working on developing treatments for COVID-19. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Free Report) has identified antibodies, which can possibly treat coronavirus. Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) is collaborating with Adaptive Biotechnologies to co-develop fully-human neutralizing antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Incyte (INCY - Free Report) will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Jakafi in patients with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm.

Gilead currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Looking for Stocks with Skyrocketing Upside?

Zacks has just released a Special Report on the booming investment opportunities of legal marijuana.

Ignited by new referendums and legislation, this industry is expected to blast from an already robust $6.7 billion to $20.2 billion in 2021. Early investors stand to make a killing, but you have to be ready to act and know just where to look.

See the pot trades we're targeting>>