Repurposing efforts for Fibrogen's, Blade's, Boehringer's and Roche's IPF drugs in COVID-19 holds water despite lung pathology differences

22 Jul 2020

There is rationale for evaluating antifibrotics in COVID-19 given the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ impact on the lungs, but several unknowns persist on the overlap between idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and COVID-19 related fibrosis, making the therapeutic impact of antifibrotics unclear, experts noted. While Fibrogen’s (NASDAQ:FGEN) idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) data is strong enough for pamrevlumab to be considered in Phase II, the potential of Blade Therapeutics’ BLD-2660 is tougher to determine given the existence of only in vitro data for the product, they noted.

Pamrevlumab’s connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)-inhibiting mechanism also found favor, but experts said greater experience with Boehringer Ingelheim’s approved Ofev (nintedanib) and Roche’s (SIX:ROG) Esbriet (pirfenidone) give more confidence in their safety and efficacy profiles. Their ability to strike multiple targets may also give them an advantage over pamrevlumab.

While Roche is aware of an investigator-led study of Esbriet in COVID-19, a company spokesperson noted there is no clinical evidence of its efficacy and safety in treating COVID-19. However, Roche is actively involved in understanding the potential of some drugs in its existing portfolio to treat SARS-CoV-2, he said.

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