(Reuters) – U.S. Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co said on Friday it began clinical testing of therapies for the COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus.

The company said it had entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the baricitinib drug to examine its efficacy and safety as a potential treatment for hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Lilly had previously been testing the Olumiant or baricitinib drug as a treatment for atopic dermatitis.

The study will start this month in the United States and will then expand to other sites in Europe and Asia, the company said in a statement, adding results from the study are expected within two months.

Lilly said it currently does not anticipate shortages for any of its medicines, including baricitinib.

U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus topped 18,100 on Friday, according to a Reuters tally.

Earlier this week, the drugmaker lowered insulin costs, saying it has capped the out-of-pocket cost for it to $35 per month to help diabetes patients across the United States, many of whom are facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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