Written by: Nathan Vardi
British drug giant AstraZeneca is rushing forward a big clinical trial for its blood cancer drug Calquence because it has shown early promising results in later-stage COVID-19 patients—those in intensive care units and on ventilators. Calquence and top-selling leukemia drug Imbruvica are the latest hopes in getting coronavirus patients off ventilators, where there is a 50% mortality rate.
The federal government’s National Cancer Institute has given Calquence to a small number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This effort has been expanded to other sites, partially through McKesson’s U.S. Oncology, the large cancer services company. Some of the severely ill COVID-19 patients who received Calquence, which is also known by its generic name acalabrutinib, were materially helped by the drug, people familiar with the matter say.
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