New Antiviral Drug ‘Remdesivir’ Could Shorten Recovery Time For COVID-19 Patients

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has been provided with a limited supply of Remdesivir, the drug that recently received an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating patients with COVID-19.

The FDA states that the investigational drug was shown during a clinical trial to shorten the recovery time in some COVID-19 patients. Since then, the pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, donated vials of Remdesivir to the US government to be distributed nationwide, with the initial allotment distributed to states and territories earlier this month. During the initial federal distribution, South Carolina received enough doses to treat up to 66 patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

According to TIME, Remdesivir isn’t a vaccine that prevents the virus. Instead, it works by attacking the virus once it is already spreading inside the body.

“We thank Gilead for their generous donation of Remdesivir and hope that the doses of this drug we received will help shorten the course of COVID-19 illness in some patients and save the lives of South Carolinians,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Director of Public Health. “We have worked with experts from around the state to develop a clinically and ethically sound framework for providing it to patients.”

While federal guidelines were issued for how to administer Remdesivir, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not initially provide a nationwide standard for determining which patients should receive the drug. DHEC worked with the South Carolina Hospital Association and a volunteer panel of ethicists and health and medical experts from around the state to develop an ethically principled process based on available medical information to determine how the initial supply of Remdesivir was distributed.

“Working non-stop last week, the Remdesivir advisory committee developed a clinically informed, ethical framework for allocation of the medication to South Carolinians to ensure the process is fair, equitable, patient-centered and clinically sound,” said Dr. Dee Ford, Professor of Medicine and Interim Division Director, Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Using this process, physicians requested Remdesivir for 59 patients around the state. All requests were filled and distributed to hospitals within six hours of receipt by DHEC. 

DHEC subsequently received additional doses of Remdesivir, which will be distributed using the same allocation process. Physicians caring for patients with COVID-19 can request Remdesivir around the clock and will receive the drug within 24 hours of their request.

Licensed practitioners may request a five-day treatment course of Remdesivir through an online application sent to hospitals by the SCHA, and those requests will be reviewed in line with the plan developed by the expert advisory committee.

DHEC has provided federal information about Remdesivir to the state’s health care providers, and fact sheets about the drug have been added to the agency’s COVID-19 webpage.

Learn how the drug works HERE.

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