Aspen shares rally after positive UK drug trial results on Covid-19

A photo illustration of a box of Dexamethasone drugs in Tehatta, India on June 17, 2020.
A photo illustration of a box of Dexamethasone drugs in Tehatta, India on June 17, 2020.
Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Shares in drug manufacturer Aspen Pharmacare [JSE:APN] rose by 7% in early trade on Wednesday after Oxford University announced initial clinical trial results of a drug produced by the Durban-based manufacturer had reduced death by up to a third of hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications from Covid-19.

The effectiveness of the drug dexamethasone, a type of steroid usually used to treat inflammation, was observed during the UK's recovery trial which is investigating a range of possible treatments for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

"It is confirmed that Aspen owns rights to this product and distributes both injectables and/or tablets containing dexamethasone in a number of countries," Aspen said in an update to shareholders.

Aspen's CEO Stephen Saad earlier told Business Insider SA there should be sufficient supplies to meet local demand. 

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the Oxford University trial, said in a statement that dexamethasone is "the first drug to be shown to improve survival in Covid-19. This is an extremely welcome result." 

Since the global outbreak of the pandemic in the middle of March, Aspen shares have gained more than 71% bolstering the company's bid to pay down debt that was ramped up over the past 20 years to pursue global expansion. 

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