Losartan Explored In Local Lab
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare Network is doing original research into finding a cure for COVID-19.
“This is an opportunity to have residents of this area participate in a really rigorous and sound clinical trial to get these drugs with the most up-to-date and most recommended method,” said Dr. Daniel Frelich, an infectious disease specialist.
The study, dubbed COVID MED, will offer select Bassett and Fox Hospital patients with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 access to three drugs — hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and Losartan.
“There are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19,” Freilich said. “Potential therapies have been identified, but there is no evidence of clinical benefit with any of these therapies.”
The drugs are FDA approved for treating other illnesses, including lupus, malaria, HIV and high blood pressure. Previously, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order prohibiting pharmacists from dispensing hydroxychloroquine outside its approved, labeled indications or outside the context of a state-approved clinical trial.
Patients must be in the early stages of the disease to participate. If any of the drugs proves obviously effective or ineffective early on, Freilich adjustments would be made to the study so patients would get access to the treatment they need, he said.
Patients in the study will not be able to choose which drug they try. As is typical with such research, subjects will not know which drug they get, or whether they are getting a placebo.
But because three drugs are being tested simultaneously, subjects have a greater chance of getting one of them instead of a placebo.
Having the study based at Bassett gives local patients unlucky enough to contract the disease a chance to get access to potentially lifesaving treatments they might not be able to get in other places, Frelich said.
“Most rural localities don’t get that opportunity. This is allowing Bassett to provide state-of-the-art COVID-19 treatment equivalent to any large institution in a big city,” he said.
Bassett researchers are hoping to work with between 10 and 20 other institutions on the study, some in harder hit areas, so that they can get the number of subjects needed to make the study meaningful.
Though the drugs are being tested elsewhere, putting them together in one study will enable more effective comparisons of their efficacy, Frelich said.
The trial was designed by the hospital’s Department of Medicine and the Bassett Research Institute, and is funded by the E. Donnall Thomas Resident Research Program.