In late April 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, made positive comments regarding the drug remdesivir and its ability to treat SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Fauci when referring to preliminary results of a National Institutes of Health trial that examined remdesivir’s ability to shorten the time patients show improvement when infected with COVID-19.
This trial has not yet been published and the exact details remain unknown. However, Dr. Fauci and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the data significant enough to create an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
To help better understand remdesvir and its potential impact during the pandemic, we spoke with Logan Whitfield, PharmD, Marshfield Clinic Health System pharmacy antimicrobial stewardship coordinator.
What does the emergency use authorization mean?
An Emergency Use Authorization does not mean that the FDA has approved the drug.
“The EUA indicates FDA acknowledgement that there are few options for the COVID-19 treatment and remdesivir could possibly offer some benefit in critically or seriously ill patients with COVID-19.”
Now that the EUA exists, remdesivir distribution will be coordinated by the U.S. Government to ensure that facilities and cities most heavily affected by the COVID-19 receive the drug first. The exact methods that determine where need is highest are unknown at this time.
Whitfield noted that the FDA drug approval process often takes a long time. This is because without extensive study to ensure a drug is safe and effective, patients may be unintentionally harmed by drug side effects.
“Any decision to start remdesivir for severe COVID-19 should be done as a shared decision between the health care provider and the patient after all risks and benefits are weighed because there are still unknowns.”
How can you stay up-to-date about remdesivir?
Whitfield warned that there is plenty of misinformation out there about the drug. He recommends using trusted medical sources when looking for that latest information.
“The best resources for patients and their families regarding COVID-19 and remdesivir are located on the CDC webpage and the drug manufacturer’s webpage,” Whitfield said. “This information is constantly updated and is reliable.”
If you are using other resources for information, consider discussing this drug with your health care provider.
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