- Gilead Sciences just received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use its antiviral drug remdesivir for COVID-19 patients.
- Remdesivir is the only antiviral drug approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19 patients.
- Gilead previously said remdesivir helped hospitalized patients with more moderate forms of COVID-19 recover more quickly when they received the treatment intravenously for five days.
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The Food and Drug Administration approved Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients, the company said. The FDA granted emergency use of the drug in May.
Remdesivir, also called Veklury, is the only antiviral drug approved to treat COVID-19 patients.
Gilead previously said remdesivir helped hospitalized patients with more moderate forms of COVID-19 recover more quickly when receiving the treatment intravenously for five days. President Donald Trump received the drug after testing positive for the coronavirus.
A study from the World Health Organisation found remdesivir did not stop patients from dying or shorten hospital stays in 2,750 COVID-19 patients. Another recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients on a 10-day course of remdesivir didn’t improve more than patients who didn’t get the drug.
Even with remdesivir’s approval, experts tell Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn the drug is not a cure all for the virus. Vaccines and preventive treatments can better slow the disease’s spread, but typically take years to develop and administer.
Gilead, a 33-year-old company valued at about $US76 billion, had a head-start in developing the COVID-19 drug because it used a failed Ebola treatment from 2009. Gilead makes treatments for other infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV.
The company said in June it would charge up to $US3,120 for a five-day treatment course of remdesivir.
Coronavirus cases continue to rise globally. The US recently entered a third wave after recording a 25% increase in its seven-day average of new cases since October 1. Spain and France just became the first European countries to record more than a million coronavirus cases.