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South west patients benefit as new GP practices join COVID-19 antiviral drug study

Hero image for Symphony/Honiton site announcement

Two more south west GP hubs have joined a clinical trial giving patients access to new COVID-19 antiviral drugs, which are designed to help people recover sooner, and reduce the need for hospital admission.

Symphony Healthcare Services, a network of NHS GP practices in Somerset and Devon, as well as Honiton Surgery in east Devon, have just been given the green light to start contacting COVID-positive patients and inviting them to take part in PANORAMIC. The two new sites join Newquay Health Centre in Cornwall, which began recruiting trial participants before Christmas.

PANORAMIC (Platform adaptive trial of novel antivirals for early treatment of COVID-19 In the Community) has been set up to rapidly assess a range of purpose-designed antiviral treatments that can be taken at home, and are intended for use in the early stages of infection.

The trial, being supported locally by the Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula (CRN SWP), aims to recruit more than 10,000 people across the country, with half randomly allocated to receive the antiviral treatment plus standard care, and half receiving standard care alone.

Dr Chris Krasucki is Principal Investigator for PANORAMIC at Symphony Healthcare Services. He said: “Although many people who are testing positive may have only mild symptoms, by taking part they will be doing their bit to help us decide how the new drugs work, and how they should best be used. This information is potentially of great value for the more vulnerable people in the community, and in a situation of rising case numbers in the future.

“It is also important to know whether the drugs help prevent long COVID, a condition that is not often reflected in the regular COVID statistics, but which I believe well over a million people in the UK are suffering from already.”

The trial is open to those aged 50 and over, or between 18 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them clinically more vulnerable. All participants also need to have had a positive COVID-19 test and be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

Taking part is easy. Local people who receive a positive test for COVID-19 will be contacted to consider enrolling in the study. Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can also sign up to take part in the study directly through the trial website:

All participants take part from their own homes, and those randomised to the group that receives an antiviral treatment will have their medicines sent directly to them.

PANORAMIC has been designed as a ‘platform clinical trial’, meaning it can rapidly evaluate several antiviral treatments, as and when they become available. The UK Antivirals Taskforce has selected all treatments to be tested. The first treatment to be investigated through the trial is molnupiravir (brand name, Lagevrio), which has already been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The results from this high priority national study will provide a clearer understanding of how antivirals work in the UK population, enabling the NHS to better plan how to make COVID-19 antivirals available for those who would benefit from them the most.