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Novant Health trying new coronavirus drugs

Remdesivir has gotten national attention and is among the treatments Novant is trying on coronavirus patients.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Researchers still have a lot to learn about coronavirus and Novant Health is helping them figure out better ways to treat it.

Clinical trials are underway and doctors are seeing good results but they also say they're still a long way from knowing exactly how to treat the virus.

"You can't use anecdote, in other words, a single case or a single report is not enough to prove something is effective," said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health senior vice president and chief safety and quality officer. 

Priest said especially for clinical trials, it's nearly impossible for doctors to know if a certain treatment is working or not.

"These are randomized, double-blinded controlled trials which means that the physicians and the patients don't know if they're getting the actual medication or if they're getting a placebo," said Priest.

Two of those drugs being tested are Leronlimab, which targets inflammation and DAS181--an antiviral medication.

Another drug being used to treat critical patients at Novant is Remdesivir. It's an Ebola medication now approved by the FDA to treat coronavirus. Although Novant has a supply of Remdesivir it is not participating in a clinical trial.

Novant Health said it's successfully treated more than 500 patients hospitalized with the virus.

Case numbers spiked in North Carolina in the last week. Priest said whether that's because the virus is spreading or because of more testing, it means more people may need treatment.

Novant Health said it offers all coronavirus patients the chance to participate in those clinical trials but it is voluntary. 

So far more than 1,000 patients have been screened for the trials although it can't give an estimate of how many of those have participated.

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