Novartis said a late-stage clinical trial of ruxolitinib on top of standard therapy showed no significant reduction in severe complications of COVID-19, including death, respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation or admission to the intensive care unit.
The RUXCOVID trial also did not show relevant benefit for other endpoints including mortality rate by day 29 and time to recovery, the Swiss drugmaker said on Monday.
It was another setback as Novartis tries to repurpose drugs to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Novartis licensed ruxolitinib, an oral inhibitor of the JAK1 and JAK 2 tyrosine kinases, from Incyte Corp for development and commercialisation outside the United States. It is approved under the trade name Jakavi in Europe and other regions for treating adult patients with some forms of polycythemia vera (PV) and primary myelofibrosis (MF).
“While the RUXCOVID trial did not give us the results we hoped for, we will continue working with the medical community to analyse its findings to better understand COVID-19 and the role of JAK inhibition,” said John Tsai, Novartis’s head of global drug development and chief medical officer.
The results of the RUXCOVID study do not affect any ongoing trials for ruxolitinib in non-COVID-19 diseases, Novartis said.
Ruxolitinib is marketed in the United States as Jakafi.
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