RedHill Biopharma Says First Coronavirus Patient Treated With Opaganib Drug

RedHill Biopharma Ltd. (RDHL) said on Monday that its first coronavirus patient has been treated with with the company’s new proprietary drug called opaganib at a hospital in Israel.

The patient, who was given a dosage of the proprietary experimental drug, is suffering from respiratory symptoms as a result of the COVID-19 infection. The treatment is administered under a compassionate use program in accordance with the Israeli Ministry of Health guidelines. More patients are expected to be treated in the coming days. In addition, RedHill is also preparing for potential ramp-up of manufacturing of the opaganib drug amid discussions of its usage in the U.S. and other countries, the company said.

“The treatment of COVID-19 patients with opaganib is supported by pre-clinical data demonstrating its unique anti-viral activity in a number of other viruses, as well as its anti-inflammatory activities and potential to reduce lung inflammation,” said Mark L. Levitt, Medical Director at RedHill.“In addition, we are working toward making opaganib available to additional patients in Israel and other countries under compassionate use programs.”

Wall Street analysts Swayampakula Ramakanth at H. C. Wainwright and Edward Woo at Ascendiant Capital both have a Buy rating on the biotech stock. The analysts’ $17.50 average price target projects highflying hopes for the stock. Should the target be met they forecast 268% upside potential in the coming 12 months. The company’s shares rose 16% in pre-market trading in the U.S.  

A total of 131 individuals have been dosed with opaganib to date in ongoing and completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical studies in oncology patients, as well as in pharmacokinetic studies in healthy volunteers in the U.S.  The opaganib drug was found to be generally safe and well tolerated, said the company, which is focused on proprietary drugs for gastrointestinal diseases.

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