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Daewoong to initiate phase 3 trial of camostat in combination with remdesivir

Jeon Seng-ho, CEO and president of Daewoong Pharmaceutical (Daewoong Pharmaceutical)
Jeon Seng-ho, CEO and president of Daewoong Pharmaceutical (Daewoong Pharmaceutical)
Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s pancreatitis treatment Foistar (DWJ1248) is to enter a new phase 3 clinical trial in combination with Gilead Science’s remdesivir, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday.

Foistar, which is administered orally in tablet form, uses camostat as its active ingredient and is hoped to reduce the viral load of COVID-19 in an infected person’s body.

In the beginning of the race for COVID-19 treatments, scientists believed that repurposing drugs such as Foistar would yield the fastest outcome, as the approval process would be truncated. With the drug’s safety for humans already established, the next step is to ascertain whether it is effective against COVID-19 as well as pancreatitis.

However, in a midterm report for a clinical phase 2a trial, the drug failed to yield a result with statistical significance when used on COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms. The company continues to develop the drug for COVID-19, saying that despite an unimpressive recovery speed, camostat had still cleared the virus from the subjects in the test group at a faster rate than those in the placebo group.

CEO Jeon Seng-ho of Daewoong Pharmaceutical said in a press interview that he envisions marketing Foistar as a COVID-19 treatment within January. Analyst Huh Hye-min of Kiwoom Securities predicted that should Daewoong succeed in its endeavors, this would reflect positively on investor sentiment.

In the phase 3 clinical trial, the final phase of testing before a drug is officially approved by the authorities, Daewoong will seek to find out if Foistar, together with remdesivir, can help severe COVID-19 patients.

Approximately 1,000 test subjects will be tested in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter phase 3 trial. It will be conducted by some 70 hospitals, including the National Medical Center.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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