June 4, 2021 ~ TrialSite News
Scripps Research Study Showcases Big Promise for COVID-19 Repurposed Drugs: But the System’s Broken & New Leadership in HHS Necessary
Scripps Research announced study results indicating 90 existing drugs or drug candidates possessing antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen behind COVID-19. In what can only be described as a serious drug repurposing initiative, the top San Diego, California-based research institution identified four clinically approved drugs as well as nine compounds in other stages of clinical development with considerable potential to serve as repurposed, oral drugs targeting the coronavirus. In collaboration with the drug discovery division of the institute called Calibr, Scripps Research and a team from the venerable science-based research institute’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology tested over 12,000 drugs in two different types of human cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. TrialSite reported on a comparable study conducted by Scripps last year. In that case, Scripps announced that they identified possible COVID-19 repurposed drug candidates using their ActivPred AI Drug Discovery Platform. Now Scripps has been at it again and the promising results of this antiviral drug discovery research were published June 3 in the journal Nature Communications. TrialSite raises an uncomfortable question here, however: given promising repurposed drug result studies from not only Scripps Research, but also the University of California, San Francisco, and Sanford Burnham Prebys, not to mention mounting evidence for some form of efficacy with repurposed agents, such as Ivermectin (over 50 clinical trials), Famotidine, fluvoxamine, and others, why didn’t the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with COVID-19 fighters within the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the pharmaceutical industry step in and commit to investigating low-cost therapies that could help address 90% of the COVID-19 cases, those early-onset asymptomatic to mild-to-moderate cases that if not treated could progress to more severe stages of the disease? The answer is clearly indicative of an underlying economic incentive system, and reform of the research system to better embrace the war on infectious disease should now be front and center for new leadership. Even Janet Woodcock lately shared in an article in Wired that explains perhaps not enough was done soon enough to explore these early therapies.
The Reality: A Broken System
While the drug development system of the West, for example, can be associated with a sort of revolutionary time of innovation and exciting breakthrough, the economic logic of the system necessitates big returns on investment for interest. That’s just the reality that’s yet again become painfully clear during the pandemic.