Coronavirus | Featured Stories

FDA Considers Experimental Drug Remdesivir to Treat Coronavirus

Researchers on Wednesday released some promising news about drug that could potentially be used to treat coronavirus.

Evidence shows that the experimental drug Remdesivir may help patients recover several days more quickly from the infection.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of Remdesivir, about making it publicly available soon.

“As part of the FDA’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in … discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in statement.

A government-funded study discovered that people who took Remdesivir recovered faster than patients who did not.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is optimistic about the results.

“The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday. “What [the clinical trial] has proven is that a drug can block this virus. This drug happens to be blocking an enzyme that the virus uses.”

Fauci, who has led NIAID for the past 36 years, compared the new findings to the 1986 discovery that the anti-retroviral drug Azidothymidine, or AZT, could suppress the HIV virus in patients with AIDS.

That drug, which later became known as Retrovir, allowed many HIV patients to turn what was considered a terminal illness into a manageable chronic health condition.

Results from the preliminary trial show that Remdesivir shortened recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days.

That is similar to the effect that the influenza drug Tamiflu has on helping people get over the flu.

“Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is very important proof of concept,” Fauci said. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

Additionally, the drug also may reduce the likelihood that patients will die.

“Results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving Remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group,” the NIAID said.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for the coronavirus, and Remdesivir is one of nearly 70 antiviral drugs being reviewed. However, an official told The New York Times that the FDA may be on the verge of announcing an emergency use authorization for Remdesivir.