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Why Promise & Proof Are Binary Events in the World of Drug Discovery

In a previous blog post, we mentioned that we will be on the lookout for news relating to drug discovery for the coronavirus, in particular, anti-viral treatments. There has subsquently been news about Gilead's "remdesivir" showing promise along with a variety of anti-body treatments being developed by other companies.

When it comes to drug discovery, it is important to distinguish between "promise" and "proof". In the case of Gilead, the news was leaked from one of a number of trials that are yet to complete. It is not wise to draw conclusions that "promising indications" leaked from one arm of a trial in drug discovery will result in a better chance of achieving a meaningful outcome e.g. proof of effectiveness in clinical trials.You should take any such news with a pinch of salt. Unless a drug or vaccine has shown efficacy in the context of a Phase 3 trial and has been approved by the FDA the odds of that "promise  turning into reality" are fairly slim.

Until we have solid proof of effective Phase 3 trial results and a variety of FDA approved anti-viral treatments, it will prove challenging to manage our way through this pandemic. Should Gilead's drug prove out to be effective, it still faces big challenges with respect to production and availability on a very large scale. Furthermore, it may prove to be effective in only certain type of cases and instances. What is needed is a toolbox of anti-viral drug treatments.

At this point in time, there are multiple clinical trials going on around the world testing numerous drugs and combinations of drugs. We will continue to keep an eye out on drug developments as any breakthrough's in this area will play a significant role in helping turn the tide of managing this health pandemic and economic fall out.

We leave you with a couple of resources, one relating to Gilead's news with comments by a former head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb


Another resource is an article that is more skeptical about the timeline for the development of a vaccine. In reality, no one knows the timeline for finding a vaccine, until we know. Then, we will face the challenge of producing such a vaccine in the numbers required. Going from testing to discovery to a viable candidate and then into production on a massive scale, all takes time.


We have faith in science, but even with all the knowledge we have today, breakthroughs in drug development and especially vaccine's take time. We can take some comfort in the fact that the world's best scientists are collaborating at a frenetic pace to find both a vaccine and viable drug candidates to mitigate the coronavirus's negative impact. The only unknown is the time to get there.

The coronavirus is a very serious threat to our health and global economy. It is bringing the global economy to its knees with very serious implications. Finding our way through this is going to be a very big challenge. And while the markets remain optimistic, the shock of this virus is reverberating around the world with massive impact on people all over the world. We are entering a period with many unknowns and as time goes by and more data is available, a picture of what it will take and how long we will be in the new "normal" will unfold.




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