AUSTIN, Texas—St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is participating in a COVID-19 Phase II clinical trial for an investigational antiviral medication merimepodib. The hospital has already enrolled 10 to 15 patients in this randomized trial and will continue enrolling until 40 patients are enrolled in the study sponsored by ViralClear Pharmaceuticals. Merimepodib was originally studied to treat hepatitis-C, but is now being studied on its antiviral properties against COVID-19. According to Dr. Robinson, Director of Infectious Diseases at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, the drug is more effective on acute viruses such at COVID-19, rather than chronic viruses like hepatitis-C.
Merimepodib is being studied in conjunction with remdesivir, also originally developed for hepatitis-C. Remdesivir is the primary antiviral treatment used for COVID-19 across the country, and lab studies show merimepodib and remdesivir have a synergistic effect against the virus. The clinical study will have half the participants be given a combination of remdesivir and merimepodib, while the other half will be given remdesivir and a placebo.
Because the drugs have a short half-life, there are no long-term concerns on the effects of the antivirals. Antivirals trials and the following analyses normally take months, but the pandemic should accelerate the process. According to Dr. Robinson, once the trial data is collected, results could be published as quickly as a few days to weeks.