SOMERVILLE, NJ - RWJBarnabas Health is proud to have been a participant in one of the Gilead trials to assess antiviral Remdesivir as a treatment for patients with severe COVID-19.

Gilead recently announced promising top line results that show similar efficacy with 5- and 10- day dosing durations of the drug.

The European Medicines Agency, the healthcare regulator for the continent's 27 countries on Thursday, June 25, recommended the conditional approval of the drug, making it the first treatment to be administered to adult patients 12 years and older who have contracted pneumonia and require assistance with their breathing.

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The Gilead drug will be branded as Veklury, in Europe; it must first gain final approvals from the European Commission.

With just a handful of participating hospitals in New Jersey, three RWJBarnabas Health facilities collectively recruited and enrolled nearly 150 patients in the trial over the past month. Participating facilities: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

“COVID-19 has ravaged our state in many ways. As frontline workers we have been professionally involved with this pandemic from day one. As New Jersey residents, we have seen the economic impact that social distancing and quarantines have had on our businesses, and we’ve all felt the pain of being physically isolated from our friends and loved ones. We’re honored to be part of this promising treatment,” said Anthony Cava, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.

Remdesivir, a drug developed by research-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc., has shown antiviral activity against multiple emerging viral pathogens, including Ebola, Marburg, MERS, SARS and now COVID-19. The clinical trials assess safety and efficacy of Remdesivir as a treatment for patients with COVID-19.

“We are excited to play a vital role in determining the efficacy of this promising new therapy, said Darrell K. Terry, Sr., MHA, MPH, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

RWJBarnabas Health continued its role in the international study until it reached completion, having recruited patients for the trial and through analysis and reporting of the results in conjunction with Gilead. RWJBarnabas is no long enrolling patients in the trial because Gilead announced today that the critical number of subjects has been met.

“While we only recruited patients for 7 weeks, because of the virus’ impact in New Jersey we were able to enroll 150 patients,” said Ronald G Nahass, MD, MHCM, an infectious disease specialist at RWJUH in New Brunswick and RWJUH Somerset, where he is also the hospital’s epidemiologist, who led the RWJBarnabas Health teams as principal investigator for the trial. “Thankfully, the number of infected individuals in our area is flattening”.

Dr. Nahass is one of the authors on an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine on the trial, Remdesivir for 5 or 10 Days in Patients with Severe Covid-19. As noted in the article, the finding that a 10-day dosing of remdesivir does not appear to be more effective than a 5-day dosing suggests that medicine supply, which is often limited, can be conserved with shorter durations of therapy.

“Making sure our communities remain healthy is our chief goal,” said John J. Gantner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick. “We’re grateful for the ability to have brought our research acumen to this trial and work alongside teams across the country to move toward a treatment for this terrible virus, and benefit not only the people of New Jersey, but those around the globe suffering from COVID-19.”

About RWJBarnabas Health

RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and an accountable care organization.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health in partnership with Rutgers University is creating New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. This collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.