Anti-viral drug trial at MultiCare offers hope for those battling Covid-19

MultiCare’s Institute for Research and Innovation was the second global site selected for the innovative drug trial

TACOMA, Washington —- In March, MultiCare became one of very few sites globally chosen to participate in two new trials for anti-viral drug, Remdesivir, to determine if the drug is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. The results of the trials are expected to be shared by the end of April and in May.

Few hospital systems are fortunate enough to have access to the drug trial, but Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company working to develop medicines for COVID-19, selected MultiCare due to MultiCare’s established Institute for Research and Innovation, headquartered in Tacoma, Washington.

“With MultiCare’s access to Remdesivir, research doesn’t just exist in academia but is taking place in the community,” says Dr. Vinay Malhotra, a physician and researcher with MultiCare’s Pulse Heart Institute and the MultiCare Institute for Research and Innovation and the primary investigator on the drug trial. “We are grateful to have this product here. If MultiCare didn’t have the research institute, our communities may not get access to these trials because the drug is in high demand.”

Access to the Phase 3 trials provides more treatment options to MultiCare patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Doctors and other clinicians who are on the front lines have more tools to fight the virus. Without existing trial agreements, MultiCare doctors would have to fill out paperwork for every single patient seeking the treatment and wait days to receive any medications. But because MultiCare has the necessary infrastructure in place, physicians and researchers were able to begin working with the new drug immediately.

The trials originally planned to enroll approximately 1,000 patients in the initial phase of the studies – 400 in the study of patients with severe disease and 600 in the study of patents with moderate disease. Both trials have increased enrollments to 1,400 in the study of moderate disease and 2,600 in the study of severe disease.

Dr. Malhotra notes that, unlike other programs that have a treatment trial or a vaccine trial, MultiCare is able to approach the treatment in a more complete format, including both a vaccine and treatment trial, combined with other treatment strategies.

“We are putting together a treatment algorithm that incorporates other experimental drugs as well as Remdesivir, which will be available in our Inland Northwest hospitals and our hospitals within the Puget Sound region this week,” says Dr. Malhotra.

If Remdesivir proves to be an effective anti-viral medication, the new drug would allow MultiCare and providers all around the world to treat patients safely both in inpatient and outpatient settings across the state of Washington.

The new anti-viral drug trial is just one of many promising developments taking place at MultiCare to combat COVID-19. The hospital system is investigating other treatment options such as potential vaccines and other anti-viral treatments. MultiCare is going to start a Prophylaxis trial targeting providers who are exposed to COVID-19, as well as individuals who have a high risk of contracting, since they will be a key population to protect.

“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” says Dr. Malhotra. “We are researching all the possibilities. We know that COVID-19 is not a one-time experience. We want to be prepared for the next time, so we are able to better prevent the virus from harming vulnerable populations.”

With the results of the trial due to be shared publicly by the end of this month, Dr. Malhotra finds it important to note that information sharing between researchers has been on going. He said, “Results of the trials have already begun to spread among the healthcare community across the globe in a matter of hours – something that has never happened prior to this pandemic. What used to take weeks to be published in a medical journal is now being shared almost immediately in phone calls and updates through the World Health Organization.” Adding, “As the first U.S. cases were over here, we have been able to advise investigators in New York on some of our early findings and what we see that might be working, to better help them treat their patients as they are a couple of weeks behind us.”

“I am proud of the leadership MulitCare clinicians have demonstrated in serving our community—both our region, where COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., and in our global community,” says Bill Robertson, President and CEO of MultiCare. “We will continue to share our findings with the health care community around the world, as we all fight COVID-19 together.”

About MultiCare:

MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. MultiCare has been caring for our community for well over a century, since the founding of Tacoma’s first hospital and today is the largest community-based, locally governed health system in the state of Washington.

MultiCare’s comprehensive system of health includes numerous primary care, urgent care and specialty services — including Immediate Clinic, MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care, Pulse Heart Institute and MultiCare Rockwood Clinic, the largest multispecialty clinic in the Inland Northwest region.