South Korea said on Wednesday it has approved the emergency use of Gilead Sciences Inc's remdesivir to treat COVID-19 after a government panel last week cited positive results for the anti-viral drug in other countries.
Representational image. A report suggests that this drug can be procured only by government hospitals and cannot be sold to any individual for self-medication as it is under clinical trial.
Last Monday, Gilead announced the results from its Phase 3 trial of remdesivir in patients with moderate pneumonia resulting from Covid-19, and the results were not as promising as many investors thought it would be. The first is that the shortened treatment time for medium to severely ill COVID-19 patients held clinical significance and there was need for a broader scope of treatment options to choose from.
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But confusingly, patients who stayed on remdesivir for 10 days did slightly worse than those who received five days of remdesivir, with only 70 percent of them improving at day 11. Outside of Japan, remdesivir is an investigational, unapproved drug.
South Korea has reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, continuing a weekslong resurgence that has alarmed a nation where millions of children have begun returning to school.
A study on over 1,000 patients in 10 countries by the US' Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that remdesivir, injected intravenously daily for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalised patients compared to a placebo. Patients were randomly assigned to get five days of remdesivir, 10 days of remdesivir, or the standard of care, and then evaluated on a 7-point scale.
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Jefferies equity analyst Michael J. Yee, the JPMorgan biotechnology research team, and the Barclays health care team have all raised doubts over the ability of remdesivir to become the go-to treatment against the virus. Those results are expected in the next few months.
In COVID-19 patients receiving treatment with intravenous remdesivir for 5 days in addition to standard treatment, odds of showing clinical improvement at day 11 were 65% higher (95% CI 9%-148%, P=0.017) versus those receiving standard of care, reported manufacturer Gilead Sciences in a press release on Monday. Nausea and headache were a little more common among those on the drug.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Health Secretary said, "We have reviewed the evidence on the basis of which Remdesivir has been given emergency approval for use in Covid-19 patients". The drug is being touted as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
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