US approval of Remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment

A/Prof Stuart Ralph was interviewed by South China Morning Post to discuss the recent coronavirus and Remdesivir developments.

Remdesivir (sold under the brand name of Veklury) was previously approved for emergency use only in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The antiviral drug has now been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hospital use as a treatment for adults and children aged 12 years and above. It is the first and only approved treatment for the coronavirus in America.

The approval is based on data analysed from three clinical trials and came just after The Solidarity Trial from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO trial found the drug appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in patients.

Associate Professor Stuart Ralph (Head of Laboratory, Dept of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) discussed the developments in the South China Morning Post last week and said despite the shorter recovery times suggested by the clinical trial, the drug appeared not to have had a significant impact on death rates.

“That’s not to say that it won’t have any beneficial role as a part of our toolkit against the virus but it doesn’t seem that Remdesivir by itself will be the answer to the hundreds of thousands of people dying from Covid-19,” he said.

“Physicians will be aware that many of those seriously ill patients who need hospitalisation will still die from COVID-19 even after treatment with Remdesivir.”

In July, Veklury was granted conditional approval by the TGA in Australia as the treatment option for COVID-19.

Article originally published in the South China Morning Post, 23 October 2020.

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