Coronavirus News Roundup: Gilead Phase 3 Trial Results, Updates on Pharmacist-Provided Testing

June 5, 2020
Drug Topics staff

Here's a roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected an estimated 6,670,000 individuals worldwide, and approximately 1.8 million Americans. In these turbulent times, pharmacists and other health care professionals remain committed to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news:

Prescription Fills Surge for Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine During Pandemic

A recent analysis showed a surge in prescription fills for hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine, likely due to off-label prescribing for COVID-19.

For the study, which was published in JAMA, investigators analyzed prescription patterns of these therapies, along with other commonly used drugs for reference, in the United States amid the pandemic.

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States Slowly Ease Barriers to Pharmacist-Provided COVID-19 Testing

In early April, the US Department of Health & Human Services authorized licensed pharmacists to order and use COVID-19 tests approved by the FDA. By mid-May, about two-thirds of states had adjusted regulations for pharmacist-provided testing, but just a handful of pharmacies had managed to navigate the maze of federal, state, and supply chain practicalities.

In California, pharmacy, medical, and consumer groups lobbied Gov Gavin Newsom and regulators for nearly 6 weeks before the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs eased restrictions that prevented most pharmacies from testing.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Patients With Diabetes

Carla Cox, PhD, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, discusses key information about COVID-19 that individuals with diabetes should know.

Watch the interview

NACDS Urges Trump Administration to Rely on Pharmacists for COVID-19 Vaccinations

The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, formed to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, should rely on the “proven record of pharmacies and pharmacists for the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines when they are available,” NACDS said in a press release.

“For more than a decade since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, government planning to distribute and administer federally purchased pandemic vaccine to the American public rapidly, efficiently, and safely has included modeling that heavily draws on the strength of chain pharmacies, pharmacists, and private sector distribution channels,” NACDS President and Chief Executive Officer Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, wrote on behalf of NACDS in a letter to the directors of Operation Warp Speed.

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Gilead Announces Phase 3 Trial Results for Remdesivir in Patients With Moderate COVID-19

Gilead announced results from the phase 3 SIMPLE trial, which found that 5-day treatment with remdesivir in hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19 symptoms and pneumonia resulted in significantly greater clinical symptom improvement versus treatment with standard of care alone, according to a press release.

The SIMPLE studies amassed more than 180 trial sites around the world, including the United States, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. The first SIMPLE trial tackled the safety and efficacy of 5-day and 10-day remdesivir treatment for severe COVID-19 symptoms and results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on May 27.

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US Patients With COVID-19 Facing Longer Hospital Stays, Higher Rates of ICU Admission

Results from a new study found that, among residents of California and Washington state enrolled in Kaiser Permanente health care plans who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, the likelihood of intensive care unit admission, long hospital stay, and mortality were higher than in these US patients than for patients in China.

The study, led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Kaiser Permanente, anonymized approximately 9.6 million medical records of Kaiser Permanente’s health care members in northern California, southern California, and Washington state from the beginning of the year to April 22, 2020.

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COVID-19 and Herpes Zoster

The medical community has focused in recent months on the virus at the core of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now its broader impact is beginning to come under scrutiny.

One area of concern is the effect of coronavirus-related stress on the human body. Common stressors include fear of contracting the virus or losing loved ones to it, sheltering at home, sudden job loss, caring for children who would normally be in daycare or school, and overall uncertainty about the future. Will this stress contribute to a spike in other health issues, including herpes zoster (HZ)?

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