Thursday, July 7, 2022

Docs wary about study showing cancer drug might cut Covid deaths for patients in hospitals

A new study found that an experimental cancer drug reduces death in hospitalized Covid patients by 55 percent.

According to a story this week by Carl Zimmer in The New York Times, however, some experts are cautious about over-interpreting the results of the study.

Veru, the Miami company that developed the drug, sabizbulin, has applied to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization to use it.

Dr. Ilan Schartz
The story quotes Dr. Ilan Schwartz, infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta who wasn't involved in the study, as saying, "This looks super-impressive. We have a small number of treatments for patients with a severe disease that improve mortality, but another treatment that can further reduce deaths would be very welcome."

He cautioned, though, that the clinical trial was relatively small — only 134 patients receiving the drug while 70 got a placebo over a course of 60 days — and said he'd "welcome large and independent confirmatory studies."

Researchers hypothesize, among other things, that the drug, which is taken in pill form, helps Covid patients fight potentially life-threatening lung inflammation.

Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, also cautioned about the impact of the study. He suggested the large 45 percent mortality rate in the placebo control group might be a sign the study was too small to draw firm conclusions. The death rate, he was quoted as saying, "jumps out at me as rather high."

In addition, he observed, "trials which are stopped early routinely overestimate the effect." He predicted a similar fate as what happened with the drug molnupiravir, which initially appeared to reduce the risk of hospitalization from Covid by 50 percent but settled for a more realistic figure of 30 percent in the final analysis.

More information on clinical trials can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, its author, aimed at male caregivers.

No comments:

Post a Comment