FDA grants ‘emergency use authorization’ to antiviral drug remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment

Remdesivir developed to fight Ebola

DETROIT – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted “emergency use authorization” to the drug remdesivir after a clinical trial showed it reduced the recovery time for seriously ill coronavirus (COVID-19) patients by 31 percent.

READ: Dr. Fauci expresses optimism for treating COVID-19 with antiviral drug remdesivir

So, what’s next for remdesivir? How will the manufacturer meet what is expected to be a heavy demand -- not just in the United States -- but around the globe.

Remdesivir was developed to fight Ebola. It didn’t work -- but the research gave scientists a head start against the coronavirus.

It’s an IV medication that appears to help block the virus’ ability to hijack our cells to reproduce itself. That discovery could lead to other drugs.

Remdesivir was tested in severely ill patients, but other studies are underway in hospitalized patients that are only moderately sick. It’s thought the drug has few side effects.

Researchers are also exploring different ways of giving the medicine to patients, including potentially as a shot. Or as an oral inhaled version. That might allow doctors to treat patients earlier in their illness -- or even outside of the hospital.

The drug maker, Gilead, made the decision early to ramp up their ability to make the drug before knowing if it was going to be effective. It would appear that gamble has paid off.

MORE: A coronavirus drug seems to work. What’s next?

The company has gone from making around 5,000 treatment courses to producing almost 100,000. It believes it can produce millions of treatment courses by the end of the year.

Gilead has donated the first 1.5 million doses of the drug. Their CEO said that moving forward they will continue to make sure the drug is accessible and affordable for patients who need it.

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