US FDA approves emergency use of Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients

Updated: May 03, 2020, 07:52 IST | Agencies | Washington

During a meeting at the White House with US president Donald Trump, Gilead chief executive Daniel O'Day said the company was donating 1.5 million vials of the experimental drug to help COVID-19 patients

One vial of the drug Remdesivir. Pic/AFP
One vial of the drug Remdesivir. Pic/AFP

The US food and drug regulatory body has allowed the emergency use of an investigational anti-viral vaccine to treat COVID-19 patients after some researches, including one led by an Indian-American physician, found that the drug helped recover some of the infected cases faster.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the use of investigational anti-viral Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. "I'm pleased to announce that Gilead now has an EUA from the FDA for Remdesivir," US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.

Remdesivir is given to patients through a vein one time each day for up to 10 days depending on recommendations of healthcare providers. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced the results of a trial involving more than 1,000 people on Wednesday.

It found that hospitalised COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress got better quicker than those on a placebo. Specifically, patients on the drug had a 31 percent faster time to recovery. "Although the results were clearly positive from a statistically significant standpoint, they were modest," Anthony Fauci, the scientist who leads the NIAID, said. While not considered a miracle cure, Remdesivir's trial achieved a "proof of concept," according to Fauci that could pave the way for better treatments.

Possible side effects of Remdesivir include infusion-related reactions and increases in levels of liver enzymes. "These are not all the possible side effects of Remdesivir. It is still being studied so it is possible that all of the risks are not known at this time," said the FDA.

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