Gilead COVID-19 Drug May Offer Glimmer Of Hope

(image via Depositphotos)

For some weeks now, Donald Trump has heralded malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as showing “tremendous promise” to combat COVID-19 but no study has yielded any sufficient data (yet) that bears out Trump’s “feeling” that it would be the salvation folks are hoping for.

But drugmaker Gilead may have some good news soon about its experimental drug Remdesivir.

From StatNews:

Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in lab tests. The entire world has been waiting for results from Gilead’s clinical trials, and positive results would likely lead to fast approvals by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies.

If safe and effective, it could become the first approved treatment against the disease.

The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19 into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir. 

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital.

It’s important to note that a  group of 125 patients in Chicago isn’t large enough to give researchers the depth of information they need.

Gilead is currently overseeing 152 separate clinical trials around the world involving 2,400 severe patients. There are an additional 169 trials following 1,600 moderate COVID-19 patients. Until the trials are closed and the numbers crunched we won’t have a clear idea as to how useful the drug might be against coronavirus.

That said, one man’s story definitely shows promise.

Slawomir Michalak, a 57-year-old factory worker from a suburb west of Chicago, told StatNews he went to the University of Chicago Medicine hospital on Friday, April 3, when he spiked a 104 fever and found it difficult to breathe.

He was put on oxygen and given the option to join the severe coronavirus trial.

On Saturday, April 4, he received his first infusion of the drug. “My fever dropped almost immediately and I started to feel better,” he said.

The next day, he received a second dose and was able to breathe without supplemental oxygen. After two more daily treatments of remdesivir, he was well enough to be discharged on Tuesday, April 7.

It’s only one man’s experience with the drug, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Read more at StatNews.

Trump Policy Proposal Would Cost HIV+ Americans At The Pharmacy

A new policy proposal from the Trump administration could affect a lot of LGBTQ Americans in terms of healthcare and their wallets.

The Washington Blade reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a draft rule last month that would allow insurance companies to ignore ‘co-pay coupons’ for prescription drugs in regard to computing a patient’s out-of-pocket spending.

In the past, insurance companies have allowed copay coupons (which reduce prices at checkout) to count towards a patient’s deductible and out-of-pocket limits.

For instance, if you are a gay man who takes PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) as protection against HIV infection, you may be acquainted with Gilead’s Advancing Access co-pay coupon card which pays up to $7,200 annually towards your copay and/or deductible if you have health insurance.

As many have found, when used to cover your PrEP prescription, within one or two months many patients find their deductible or out-of-pocket maximums have been met because the co-pay coupon counts towards those limits. From that point on, you might have low or zero out-of-pocket medical expenses.

But if the proposed rule is adopted, insurance companies could block those coupon payments from being applied towards a patient’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximums – even though the insurance company isn’t having to pay.

Why does an insurance company care where the funds come from as long as the bill gets paid???

In those cases, you would have to pay much more in regard to out-of-pocket spending before reaching your deductible.

And it’s not just HIV medications in play here.

The new policy could affect Americans with hepatitis B or C, who need daily medications to stay healthy in the case of hepatitis B, and for medications to cure hepatitis C which requires treatment for up to 12 weeks.

Donald Trump has said in the past he wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs, but this certainly won’t do the trick.

As the Blade notes, some patients with limited funds often skip a dose of medications here or there to stretch out the drugs they have. But studies have shown that missing just two days of HIV meds can increase an individual’s viral load.

It’s not just HIV or hepatitis patients that could be affected.

A study from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science shows in 2017 69 percent of insured Americans did not fill their new prescriptions when they had to pay more than $250 out of pocket. Such non-adherence leads to tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year.

In the end, while Trump may profess to want to help the American people with their healthcare costs, this new policy would only favor insurance companies.

Here’s hoping the new policy proposal is rejected.

(source: Washington Blade)

Podcast: Cuba Marches, Gilead Donates, Indya Moore Covers ELLE, Matt Bomer Stars In ‘Papi Chulo’

In this week's podcast:  • Pharma giant Gilead will donate up PrEP medications for up to 200,000 American individuals in the effort to stop HIV  • Cuban gays stage an impromptu Pride march after the government cancels the annual parade  • A school in Indiana planned to deadname a transgender student at graduation  • Indya Moore becomes the first transgender woman to cover Elle Magazine  • And Matt Bomer plays a gay weatherman in the upcoming movie, 'Papi Chulo'

In this week’s podcast:

• Pharma giant Gilead will donate up PrEP medications for up to 200,000 American individuals in the effort to stop HIV

• Cuban gays stage an impromptu Pride march after the government cancels the annual parade

• A school in Indiana planned to deadname a transgender student at graduation

• Indya Moore becomes the first transgender woman to cover Elle Magazine

• And Matt Bomer plays a gay weatherman in the upcoming movie, ‘Papi Chulo’

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Hit the play button below.

If you enjoy catching up on LGBTQ news in a quick podcast, I’d appreciate it if you would share The Randy Report with your friends.

I like to think of this podcast as the 60 Minutes of gay news —— only shorter 😉