STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Lilly to Study Use of Arthritis Drug to Treat COVID-19

Patrik Jonsson is president of Lilly Bio-Medicines (photo courtesy: Eli Lilly and Co.)

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. is exploring whether one of its FDA-approved treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) could be used to treat patients with COVID-19.

Posted: Apr 13, 2020 2:45 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) - Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is exploring whether one of its FDA-approved treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) could be used to treat patients with COVID-19.

The company has announced it will begin clinical trials this month on the drug baricitinib on patients in the U.S. who are hospitalized and diagnosed with the disease.

“Those patients have developed what is called an acute respiratory distress syndrome,” said Patrik Jonsson, president of Lilly Bio-Medicines.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of baricitinib, which is marketed as Olumiant, in June 2018 for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis.

Jonsson said Lilly will collaborate with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to examine if the anti-inflammatory benefits of baricitinib seen in RA patients could have similar efficacy in advanced cases of COVID-19 patients.

“That is the primary focus to really understand if we could provide relief for those patients who participate in it. If that could be confirmed, I think we'll probably consider different study setups as well.”

Lilly said for the NIAID study, Baricitinib will be tested on the spectrum of hospitalized patients, from mild to moderate to severe cases, including those patients being ventilated.

Jonsson said preclinical data seems to support the hypothesis that the RA treatment could work. To validate the success, the NIAID-Lilly study will utilize a placebo-controlled study.

“We have just made the commitment to do whatever we can through our scientific forces, overcome and combat the coronavirus. But it's amazing all of the initiatives that have been announced just over the last couple of weeks. So now, making this partnership with the NIAID, it's really exciting for us,” Jonsson said.

For Jonsson, this endeavor is not only about a scientific process. There is also a very personal connection. Prior to his current role at the company headquarters in Indianapolis, Jonsson oversaw Lilly’s central and southern European operations, including Italy and Spain

Jonsson lived in Italy for six years. In a country of 60 million people, nearly 20,000 have died from COVID-19. Spain has registered approximately 18,000 deaths, among its population of 46 million.

“I’m in almost daily contact with my friends both in Italy and in Spain,” said Jonsson. “Whoever I'm talking to back there, they have someone that they are close to that is either severely ill or even having passed away as a result of this virus.”

Just last week, Jonsson spoke with former colleagues in Spain about the pandemic’s impact. “He said, ‘Patrik, please take this serious(ly), take it serious(ly) because this is really, really a devastating situation.”

He said the discovery of the possible use of the drug on COVID-19 patients stemmed from research conducted in February in London.

“They used an artificial intelligence model to try to check in the literature…if there was a medicine already in a marketplace approved for something different, not for COVID-19,” explained Jonsson. But the U.K. researchers said their A.I. outcomes indicated baricitinib might have not only an antiviral impact but also an anti-inflammatory effect on COVID-19 patients.

“This NIAID study presents an important opportunity to test whether baricitinib can help these patients,” said Dr. Vincent Marconi, professor of medicine and global health at Emory University School of Medicine. “There is an urgent need for new strategies to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients, many of whom will progress to respiratory failure.”

Lilly said testing will begin in the U.S. and it expects results within the next two months. Testing could also be expanded to locations in Europe and Asia.

The company said the medication is currently approved for use in over 65 countries, including the U.S.

Terre Haute
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 38°
Robinson
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 39°
Indianapolis
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 34°
Rockville
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 36°
Casey
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 42°
Brazil
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 38°
Marshall
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 38°
Sunny & Seasonable
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Night: Clear, chilly. Low: 39°

Image

Rose Steamrolls Anderson at Home

Image

Northview's Season Comes to an End at Owen Valley

Image

Linton Volleyball Claims First Sectional Since 2017

Image

Bloomfield Volleyball Wins Fourth Straight Sectional Title

Image

Flu Season is Back

Image

Saturday: Sunny, breezy and much cooler. High: 62°

Image

Parke Heritage Fountain Central

Image

North Vermillion Wins a Close One Over Seeger

Image

Casey Dominates Marshall

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1665777

Reported Deaths: 27840
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63126111168
DuPage1074651374
Will906981118
Lake795261076
Kane68004866
Winnebago40745559
Madison39883590
St. Clair36147591
McHenry34415322
Champaign26859196
Peoria26749368
Sangamon25613284
McLean22871216
Tazewell20525330
Rock Island18699358
Kankakee17795247
Kendall16104113
Macon15222250
LaSalle14954285
Vermilion14202198
Adams13072152
DeKalb12078133
Williamson11998174
Whiteside8247181
Jackson806594
Boone787583
Coles7843121
Ogle752487
Grundy731786
Franklin7276114
Knox7197169
Clinton7095102
Macoupin6893104
Marion6871143
Henry659876
Effingham655499
Jefferson6492142
Livingston594697
Stephenson577592
Woodford573592
Randolph552399
Christian530382
Monroe5236100
Fulton521674
Morgan503899
Logan492574
Montgomery487680
Lee476960
Bureau441189
Saline431769
Perry430375
Fayette428964
Iroquois418177
McDonough372360
Shelby343147
Jersey334253
Crawford330830
Lawrence329932
Douglas324737
Union305448
Wayne299961
White278533
Richland278457
Hancock271935
Clark264939
Cass264730
Pike262658
Clay257354
Edgar255249
Bond255024
Warren242765
Ford242259
Carroll235638
Moultrie228833
Johnson223831
Wabash216619
Jo Daviess214529
Massac213748
Mason211652
Washington211428
Greene204540
De Witt204230
Mercer202235
Piatt200614
Cumberland188526
Menard171013
Jasper160521
Marshall140921
Hamilton133322
Schuyler106410
Brown10589
Pulaski103711
Edwards102518
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71312
Scott7116
Henderson69614
Calhoun6862
Hardin59416
Putnam5604
Pope5446
Unassigned1582433
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532