Could This Be the Biggest News in Treating Severe COVID So Far?

NRx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NRXP) recently reported positive results for experimental drug Zyesami in preventing cytokine storms in patients with COVID-19. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on July 21, healthcare and cannabis bureau editor-analyst Olivia Zitkus and Motley Fool contributor Keith Speights discuss just how big NRx's news could be in treating severe COVID-19.

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Olivia Zitkus: I've got another question for you, this time back to COVID, but we're talking treatments now. Shares of a company called NRx Pharmaceuticals skyrocketed earlier this week after it announced data showing that an experimental drug Zyesami, am I pronouncing that right? Zyesami, I think.

Keith Speights: Brian and I always struggle over drug names and we just roll with it. We might be right, we might be wrong, we just go with it.

Zitkus: You read it and you realize you've never said it aloud before.

Speights: Yeah.

Zitkus: That's where I'm at this morning. Anyway, this experimental drug Zyesami, we'll call it that. They discovered that it could potentially help prevent cytokine storms in patients with COVID-19. These storms have been a serious issue in treating the disease. Do you think that this could be big news in treating severe COVID, or the biggest since we've been following treatment stocks?

Speights: Yeah, I think this very well could be big news. Preventing these cytokine storms is a big deal. That's especially the case with the rise in the COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated individuals.

By the way, what these are, the cytokines are small proteins that are involved in cell signaling with the body's immune system. These so-called storms occur when the body produces way too many cytokines too quickly, so it really wreaks havoc on the body. What happened here though, as NRx said, that Zyesami was also associated with a significant decrease in 60-day mortality. Reducing the number of deaths makes this drug's appeal even greater.

I think this really could be excellent news for treatment of severe COVID-19, and probably will increase the likelihood that the FDA does grant emergency use authorization to this drug.

It is important to know what we don't know. We don't know what concerns the FDA might have beyond what we've seen in the press. NRx even mentioned that it's continuing to respond to FDA information request for additional data related to its EUA filing.

We don't know exactly what the FDA is thinking here. I do think this news does bolster the case for NRx's drug, but we'll see. I do think it's too soon to say whether or not this is the biggest news so far in treating severe COVID-19.

There have been several advances in treating severe COVID-19, notably including those antibody therapies. My impression is that investors are taking a wait-and-see attitude here. NRx stock did sore initially after the news about these results, but then it gave up all of those gains.

I think investors are saying, "We're going to wait and see what happens with the FDA." If the drug wins EUA, I think the stock is going to soar again, but I think everybody's being really cautious right now.

Zitkus: Yeah, rightfully so. This is a $500 million market cap company, and it's serving as the US collaboration partner for relief therapeutics on this project, so it's not totally going in alone, but it will be an interesting. I agree with wait-and-see approach, I think I'd be a little afraid of the market wins on this one for now.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Olivia Zitkus has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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