EvergreenHealth tests coronavirus drug, remdesivir

KING COUNTY, Wash. — EvergreenHealth will enter the second arm of the clinical trial for remdesivir after positive results.

EvergreenHealth treated patients with the most severe symptoms, some on ventilators, with the drug that was developed for Ebola. To participate in the clinical trial, the hospital needed permission from the patient or consent from their relatives.

Dr. Diego Lopez de Castilla is the lead investigator of the trial and told KIRO-7 that the treatment is a game-changer.

“The first thing we felt when we heard the results is there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Lopez de Castilla. “The data shows it decreases approximately four days, from 15 days to 11 days. So, that is really interesting data we have right now.”

The trial showed remdesivir cut the length of the virus by 31%.

“From the very beginning, I’ve been inspired by the way every one of our staff members has jumped into action to come together and launch these research efforts as quickly as possible,” said Lopez de Castilla, EvergreenHealth infectious disease specialist. “From our nursing to pharmacy teams, it is amazing and humbling to witness this level of teamwork and dedication to exploring new opportunities to potentially advance our ability to provide treatment options for critically ill COVID-19 patients.”

The first part of the clinical study had half the patients receiving remdesivir, the rest got a placebo. In the second arm of the trial, all patients will get remdesivir in addition, and half of them will also get a drug that suppresses the immune system’s reaction to the virus, which causes a hyperinflammatory state, Lopez de Castilla said.

“We are very pleased by the initial findings of the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial, and incredibly honored to contribute to this significant body of research in the fight against COVID-19,” said Jeff Tomlin, MD, CEO of EvergreenHealth.

Josie and George Taylor were treated at EvergreenHealth and asked if they wanted to participate. They agreed immediately.

And while they don’t know if they received remdesivir or a placebo, they commented that they got to go home from the hospital, unlike so many others.

“We did come home when we saw people being wheeled out," George Taylor said. "That makes us wonder, did we get the real thing? If we did, we hope it works for everybody.”

Phil Snyder received remdesivir when he arrived at the emergency room at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett in March. He said he is thankful it worked so quickly and that it kept him from needing a ventilator.

“I was really grateful it worked so fast. From day one I could tell the difference. I could breathe a little better,” said Snyder from his home Thursday. “From the moment I took it and the impact it had on me, I said, ‘this needs to get out to more people.’”