On Thursday, Oct. 22, the antiviral drug, remdesivir, received a full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, making it the first official and approved treatment for COVID-19. The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, has been used under an emergency use authorization which was issued back in May.
"In the United States, Veklury is indicated for adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kg) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization," said Gilead, the company responsible for the production of remdesivir, in a statement today. "Veklury should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care."
Earlier this month, a study conducted by the World Health Organization had indicated that the drug had "little or no effect" on death rates among patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Still, it has shown to be modestly effective in reducing the recovery time for some hospitalized patients.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug shortened the course of illness from an average of 15 days to about 11 days. The study included mentioned that people who receive the drug earlier in their disease may benefit more than those who receive it later on in the course of their illness.
"Our data show that remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection," the NEJM researchers concluded.
According to Will Humble, the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, the 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 National Institutes of Health now includes remdesivir as part of its recommended treatment strategy for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Other medications and treatment strategies, such as anti-inflammatories and keeping patients on their stomachs to prevent worsening respiratory symptoms, are other likely contributors to the decline in death rates.
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