Anti-inflammatory drugs being tested on COVID-19 patients in Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Doctors are testing anti-inflammatory drugs on COVID-19 patients at Penrose St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs.

They say these anti-inflammatory drugs may help with recovery.

A recent case study at Penrose St. Francis Hospital tested seven patients with severe cases of COVID-19 with the drug Calquence (Acalabrutinib).

“In general, we saw their numbers get better, and for the most part they improved clinically after just after a couple of days,” said Andrew Monticelli, Medical Oncologist Rocky Mountain Cancer Center.

The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center got involved because the drug Calquence is a non-chemo drug used on Leukemia patients.

“Within about 24 hours some of their laboratory numbers – markers of inflammation – would start improving. And then, another day or so and most of the patients their oxygen requirements would start to improve,” Monticelli said.

Monticelli says in Italy, doctors noticed that patients on Calquence (Acalabrutinib) were not getting really sick when they got COVID and thought it might be due to the medication.

The National Institute of Health decided to try it on COVID patients and saw a quick turnaround in the patients that were treated.

“I think it’s important because you have the potential to take an illness that has great morbidity and high death rate, and you can make that a much briefer illness and much less serious,” said Monticelli.


 Another trial is also taking place at Penrose St. Francis with the anti-inflammatory drug Ampion.

The clinical trial has begun with just 10 patients. Five patients will receive Ampion and five will not, and they will evaluate the results.

So far, they have given the drug to two of the ten patients. They are going to analyze the results and continue with the next eight.

“Hopefully it prevents a patient who needs oxygen from having to be put on a ventilator,” said Dr. David Bar-Or, the CEO of Ampio Pharmaceuticals, who said Ampion works by reducing inflammation in the lungs so patients can breathe better.

Ampion will be given both to patients on a ventilator and to patients before they need a ventilator.

Patients will be given two doses a day for five days.

“What I expect to see is something very rapidly — something happens very rapidly. Improvement in oxygenation parameters and perhaps the well-being of the patient,” said Bar-Or before adding, “When we do in-vitro studies in cell cultures, we see the results within 24 hours.” 

If patients’ results show promise, the study will be expanded to four other hospitals.

UPDATE (8/18): Interviews were shot on 8/4/20. Numbers may have changed since story was published.

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