Saskatoon

SHA considers joining clinical trials of COVID-19 medications

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is considering joining several clinical trials for COVID-19 medications, but is not currently using or testing any medications during patient treatment.

No medications are being used or tested in clinical trials in Sask. at this time, says SHA

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the company says its experimental antiviral drug has proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major U.S. government study that put it to a strict test. (Gilead Sciences/The Associated Press)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) says it is considering joining several clinical trials for COVID-19 medications, but is not currently using or testing any medications during patient treatment.

Management of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan currently consists of two types of care — supportive and advanced — neither of which involves the use of medication. 

"Despite lots of interest and activity, no specific medications or interventions have been proven to safely treat COVID-19," said the SHA in a written response to questions. 

Example of supportive care include the use of oxygen, or antibiotics if the patient is also suffering from non-COVID-19 illnesses they could help fight. Advanced care can consist of breathing and blood pressure support if a patient is in the Intensive Care Unit.

SHA said there is interest among Saskatchewan physicians in joining clinical trials of medications. 

One of those is the CATCO study, which is part of a worldwide Solidarity Trial being run through the World Health Organization.

The trial looks at potential medications such as hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and remdesivir, and compares them to supportive therapies such as oxygen or antibiotics. 

It said there is also interest in the CONCOR study that looks at using antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients as a potential treatment. 

"However, all studies require vigorous reviews and approval process to ensure patient safety is at the forefront of all trials and there are no conflict of interests," said the SHA. 

"It is critical that any therapy targeting COVID-19 be done in a clinical trial setting given the many unanswered questions about the benefits of the various therapies being reported, as well as the potential harm from these medications."

As of Thursday afternoon, nine patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. There have been 13 deaths, 759 known cases and 648 recoveries in the province. There are 98 known active cases.

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