According to a recent report from the Associated Press, U.S. regulators approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: Remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given to hospitalized patients intravenously.
The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery by five days, from 15 days to 10 on average, in a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now becomes the first drug to win full Food and Drug Administration approval for treating COVID-19. President Donald Trump received it when he was sickened earlier this month.
Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88 pounds who are hospitalized for a coronavirus infection. For patients younger than 12, the FDA will allow the drug’s use in some cases under its previous emergency authorization.
The drug works by garnering a substance the virus uses to make copies of itself. Certain kidney and liver tests are required before starting patients on it to ensure it’s safe for them and to monitor for any possible side effects. And the label warns against using it with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine because that can curb its effectiveness.
“We now have enough knowledge and a growing set of tools to help fight COVID-19,” Gilead’s chief medical officer, Dr. Merdad Parsey, said in a statement.