Six drugs have entered a new initiative being set up under the Accord programme

Potential treatments for the novel coronavirus could be fast-tracked through a new clinical trial, the government has said.

Six drugs have entered a new initiative being set up under the Accelerating Covid-19 Research & Development (Accord) programme.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this “will accelerate the development of new drugs for patients hospitalised with COVID-19” and “reduce the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from months to just weeks.”

The DHSC added that phase 2 studies – the point at which a clinical trial focuses on testing a drug on patients to assess its effectiveness and any side effects – of these drugs will begin across the UK imminently.

Making the announcement on Tuesday (28), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Currently, six different treatments have been entered into national clinical trials and the first is ready to enter the next stage: a new early phase clinical trial platform that we are launching today.”

These drugs will advance rapidly into large-scale trials across the country if early indication of their effectiveness in treating coronavirus and if positive results are seen, with any new potential treatments being rapidly fed into Accord as the programme rolls out over the next few weeks.

One of the first waves of new and existing medicines to be tested through the Accord platform — which is funded by the DHSC and UK Research and Innovation — include Bemcetinib, an experimental cancer drug.

Accord has been formed through a partnership between the Government Scientific Office, the National Institute for Health Research’s biomedical research centres and clinical research facilities, and expert centres in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, clinical research company IQVIA and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

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