Good afternoon, readers.

Drug development is a weird business. It’s crucial during a pandemic and the companies trying to make drugs have to get creative in emergency moments like this.

That’s why a whole lot of pharmaceutical firms have been testing out whether their own existing products can fight the coronavirus. Roche is one of them—and, unfortunately, on Wednesday announced that the gambit didn’t work out.

The Swiss drug giant was attempting to see whether or not Actemra, an anti-inflammatory which treats rheumatoid arthritis, could be promising for patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 with severe symptoms.

The company said in a statement that the trial of this drug failed both its primary and secondary goals: improvement in health for those with COVID-associated pneumonia as well as lowering the risk of death for these patients.

It’s a disappointing development. But it doesn’t mean that an old drug can’t learn new tricks. Gilead’s remdesivir, one of the only authorized coronavirus treatments in the world, had been in the making for a decade. Experimental vaccines rely on old technologies for similar coronaviruses. It isn’t easy to balance expedience with effectiveness.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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