Roche bids to co-develop potential oral Covid-19 treatment

The treatment has the potential to be the first novel oral antiviral to treat COVID-19 patients outside the hospital setting. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

The Basel-based company has partnered with Atea Pharmaceuticals to develop, manufacture and distribute the latter’s oral anti-Covid-19 treatment – if approved.

This content was published on October 22, 2020 - 12:05

The treatment, AT-527, has the potential to become the first oral antiviral to treat Covid-19 patients outside the hospital setting and is also being considered as a preventative measure after Covid-19 exposure. AT-527 acts by blocking the viral RNA polymerase enzyme needed for viral replication.

Phase 2 clinical trials of the treatment in hospitalised patients with moderate Covid-19 infections are underway. A Phase 3 trial with patients outside hospital settings could start next year. As a small and direct-acting oral treatment, it should be possible to manufacture large quantities quickly, Roche says.

“If successful, AT-527 could help treat patients early, reduce the progression of the infection, and contribute to decreasing the overall burden on health systems,” indicated Roche in a press release.

The collaboration is expected to help accelerate clinical development and manufacturing in order to make the treatment available to patients as quickly as possible. If AT-527 receives regulatory approval, Atea will be responsible for distributing it in the US, with possible support from Roche subsidiary Genentech. Roche will be responsible for distribution outside the US.

“In jointly developing and manufacturing AT-527 at scale, we seek to make this treatment option available to as many people around the world as we possibly can,” said Bill Anderson, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals division.

Roche has been one of the major players in the field of Covid-19 diagnostics and has also been evaluating its existing medicine portfolio for use against the virus. Trials are currently underway to evaluate whether Actemra, approved for use against rheumatoid arthritis, could help patients with severe Covid-19 pneumonia.

In August, the Swiss firm also signed a deal with Regeneron to develop, manufacture, and increase global supply of its antibody cocktail treatment if it is approved for use.

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