Lupus Research Alliance Encouraged by Lilly Looking at Potential Lupus Drug for COVID-19

April 23, 2020

The Lupus Research Alliance is pleased to share that Eli Lilly and Company entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to test the safety and effectiveness of its drug baricitinib as a potential treatment for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

An oral JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor, baricitinib is currently approved in the U.S. and more than 65 countries throughout the world as a treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis under the brand name OLUMIANT®.  Lilly is currently conducting two Phase 3 SLE trials to test two doses of baricitinib. Based on the results of a Phase 2 study in lupus published by The Lancet, baricitinib was recently given Fast Track designation for lupus from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Healthcare providers battling coronavirus are learning much from rheumatologists familiar with repurposing rheumatic drugs that tamp down an over-zealous immune system,” noted Kenneth M. Farber, President and CEO of the Lupus Research Alliance.  “We are looking forward to seeing further results from trials looking at baricitinib for COVID-19 as well as for treating our community of people with lupus who have not had a new treatment option in nearly a decade.

The new study with the NIAID, a part of the National Institutes of Health, will begin in April in the U.S. with additional sites in Europe and Asia joining the study later. Results are expected within two months. The company is also testing other potential treatments for patients with COVID-19.

Lilly also announced that baricitinib shortages are not expected and if trials prove successful, it will create adequate supply for both patients already taking the medication and those in the study.

Read Press Announcement from Lilly