Lilly's rheumatoid arthritis drug cuts COVID-19 deaths in trial, data shows

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co <LLY.N> said Thursday that COVID-19 patients who received a combination of the drug for rheumatoid arthritis and the remdesivir <GILD.O> from Gilead Sciences Inc. in one clinical trial, fewer deaths were reported for COVID-19 than remdesivir alone.
According to data from a US government-sponsored study that was not intended to measure the effectiveness of baricitinib in preventing death, the effects were most pronounced in patients on oxygen therapy.
Consistent with data published in September, the combination helped reduce the median recovery time by one day compared to remdesivir and meet the study's main objective.
According to Lilly, 5.1% of patients on the drug combination died after 29 days compared to 7.8% of patients given remdesivir, which is already approved in the US for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, and a placebo.
Baricitinib, licensed by Lilly of Incyte Corp <INCY.O> and approved in the US for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, could help suppress a potentially fatal immune response to COVID-19 called a "cytokine storm".
Lilly said it was in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get emergency approval to treat COVID-19 patients.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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