Devon patients recruited to world’s biggest clinical trial

Patients in Exeter with Covid-19 are being recruited to the largest clinical trial in the world to investigate existing medicines which might be effective against the disease.

Philip Bowern  www.devonlive.com 

The trial, known as the Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial, has been rolled out across the UK. Already fifteen patients have been recruited in Exeter. The trial is being run through a partnership between the University of Exeter and the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. Exeter is one of the 157 trial centres being coordinated nationally by researchers from the University of Oxford. There are currently no specific treatments for Covid-19.

Some existing drugs usually used for other conditions may have some benefits – but they may not. As they are already approved for other uses, the trial is able to start more swiftly than for new drugs which would need rigorous safety testing first. The new trial will provide doctors and the health service with information they need to determine which treatments should be used.

The treatments initially included in the study have been recommended by an expert panel that advises the Chief Medical Officer in England. These are Lopinavir-Ritonavir, normally used to treat HIV, the steroid dexamethasone, which is used in a wide range of conditions to reduce inflammation, and hydroxychloroquine, which is mainly used as an anti-malarial drug and the commonly-used antibiotic azithromycin.

The trial has seen research teams at the RD&E uniting to form a single workforce to ensure that patients have the best possible access to the ground-breaking Covid-19 studies being undertaken.

Dr Ray Sheridan, Consultant at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Exeter, said: “This trial is an incredibly exciting development in the battle against COVID-19.

“In Exeter, the strong and long-standing relationship between the University and the RD&E health trust means our clinicians and scientists work incredibly well together. We don’t yet know if the drugs will work, but it’s heartening to be part of promising research on this international crisis.”The trial will be open to adult inpatients at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital who have tested positive for Covid-19, and who have not been excluded for medical reasons. All patients will receive the usual standard of care.

Patients joining the trial will be allocated at random by computer to receive one of the medicines being studied in addition to the usual care.

This will enable researchers to see whether any of the possible new treatments are more or less effective.