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Foundation Supports Crucial Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Drugs

Thanks to the generosity of donors, The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital is supporting Washington University School of Medicine’s critical trial of antimalarial and antibiotic drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. Express Scripts, a Cigna company, donated these medications for the clinical trial being conducted at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“The Foundation earlier this week approved a grant to support research expenses associated with the clinical trial,” says Susan Ell, vice president and executive director. “We are proud to partner with our colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in this important, groundbreaking work.”

This urgent funding, made possible by generous donors, became available quickly due to the Foundation’s high priority consideration of grant applications that address the pressing health needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundation is able to respond rapidly to the pandemic and other crisis situations through gifts to its Healthy Future Fund, which supports areas of greatest need. Through this fund, our donor partners are providing health care professionals with essential personal protection equipment and helping physician-scientists identify better testing methods and accelerate research to create a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

For example, the trial at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is aimed at determining the effectiveness of different combinations of the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin in treating ill patients infected with the novel coronavirus. The treatments are only for patients who are ill enough to be admitted to the hospital. The researchers plan to enroll 500 patients over the course of the study.

The Food and Drug Administration recently gave emergency approval for hospitals across the country to use the two antimalarial drugs to treat severe cases of COVID-19. However, this treatment strategy remains unproven.

 “There have been only a few small studies that have evaluated chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19 infection, and the results are unclear,” says infectious disease specialist Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University, who is co-leading the trial. “We need additional trials to understand whether the drugs are effective. We are pleased to be able to offer this clinical trial to patients with COVID-19 in the St. Louis region.”

Patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 who choose to enroll in the trial will be randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: One group will receive chloroquine alone; a second group will receive hydroxychloroquine alone; a third group will receive chloroquine and azithromycin; and a fourth group will receive hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

“This trial will help to establish whether these drugs are effective and, if so, to determine the optimal doses to help minimize the symptoms of COVID-19,” says Steve Miller, MD, chief clinical officer, Cigna.

To make a gift supporting BJC HealthCare’s Rapid Response Efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic, please click here:  COVID-19 Rapid Response  

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