The Spanish pharmaceutical industry does not want to be left behind in the search for an innovative treatment against Covid-19. The historic Catalan laboratory Was announced this Friday that it has begun a study with patients to test its own molecule as an antiviral.
In this way, Esteve joins two other Spanish laboratories that are looking for a remedy against the pathology that has caused the worst pandemic in a century. Other experimental compounds are also being tested by the biotech PharmaMar and Oryzon, although at the moment they are experimental drugs and do not have commercial authorization.
Esteve has launched the phase II clinical trial, in which the efficacy of the drug is tested with dozens of people, together with the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona and the Pompeu Fabra University.
Already in April of last year it was learned that the listed biotech Oryzon would start a phase II of another drug 100% Spanish origin called vafidemstat in patients with Covid-19. The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps) gave its approval to test it in seriously ill patients, although since then no progress has been made.
Likewise, biotechnology PharmaMar –Former Zeltia– announced that after passing Aplicov’s phase I and II safety data, it will request a phase III trial, the last one before a potential authorization to market the product.
The company listed on the Ibex 35 plans to experiment with its drug in both the US and Europe, for which they are already in talks with the respective drug agencies (FDA and EMA). In this case, this antiviral comes from a compound called Aplidin, with which the company investigates cancer without great advances in years.
This type of treatment against Covid-19 is being investigated in parallel to the development made by the pharmaceutical industry in advances in vaccines, although there is currently no evidence on highly effective therapies. A Gilead antiviral, called Veklury, is currently licensed in Europe. Other drugs, called monoclonal antibodies, from companies such as Regeneron and Eli Lilly have also received authorizations for use in the US or Europe. At stake is a huge market generated by the pandemic, with dozens of attempts at new therapies in the world but without a clear winner yet.
In Spain there are also other initiatives in the area of vaccines, such as the one led by the team of researcher Mariano Esteban of the CSIC together with the Zenda group, or that of Luis Enjuanes, also of the CSIC, which negotiates the collaboration of the German BioNTech and the valenciana PST for development. Other companies also help in the manufacture of vaccines such as Rovi for Moderna; Reig Jofre (with Janssen); Insud (for AstraZeneca), and Zendal (with Novavax).
In Esteve’s case, the compound provisionally named E-52862 will be tested in the early treatment of outpatients with mild symptoms of Covid-19 and confirmed infection. Until now, the laboratory tested this experimental drug against neuropathic pain, but with the trial for this respiratory disease it adds a new indication. They hope to recruit 120 volunteers.
Esteve is a laboratory born in 1929 and controlled by the family of the same name. In recent years, his research has focused on trying to launch new drugs against pain. In 2017, the family ceded executive power to Staffan Schüberg, who serves as CEO after being booked from the German laboratory Lundbeck. In 2019, the chemical and pharmaceutical group had a turnover of 472 million euros and allocated 45 million to R&D.