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Can Remdesivir be used to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 11, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Can Remdesivir be used to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus)?


Yes, remdesivir (Veklury, GS-5734) can be used to treat COVID-19, Veklury is the first FDA approved treatment for COVID-19 in the United States.

Veklury is approved for treatment for:

  • hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are
  • adults and pediatric patients (12 years and over and weighing at least 40kg (88lb))

Veklury is contraindicated in patients who are allergic to Veklury or any of its components.

What is Remdesivir?

  • Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that blocks an enzyme that the virus uses to make copies of itself, so there is a decrease in the quantity of coronavirus in the body.
  • Remdesivir has also been studied in treatment of the viruses that cause MERS, SARS-CoV and Ebola.

How does Remdesivir work on COVID-19?

  • For the SARS-CoV-2 virus to make you sick it has to first infect your cells.
  • Secondly the virus needs to make a lot of copies of itself, so it can spread around your body which causes the COVID-19 symptoms.
  • For the virus to make copies of itself, it needs an enzyme called RdRp (RNA- dependent RNA polymerase) but the Remdesivir stops the RdRp from working properly, so the virus can’t make its copies.
  • This stops the virus numbers from increasing and stops the infection getting worse.

Is Remdesivir an approved medicine by the FDA?

  • Yes, remdesivir (Veklury) is an FDA approved medicine for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are adults or pediatric patients that are 12 years and over and weighing at least 40kg (88lb).
  • Veklury not been approved by FDA for use in pediatric patients under 12 years of age or weighing less than 40 kg (88lb), as the safety and efficacy of Veklury for this age group has not been established.
  • FDA have issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Veklury to be used in hospitalized pediatric patients who are in the weight range of 3.5 kg to 40 kg (7.7lb - 88lb), who have suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and use of of an intravenous (IV) agent is clinically appropriate.


What did the Veklury clinical trials show?

ACTT-1 was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing Veklury and placebo treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Veklury significantly improved recovery time:

  • By five days in overall study population (10 days vs 15 days).
  • By seven days in patients who required oxygen support at baseline (11 days vs 18 days).

The secondary endpoint in the trial showed Veklury:

  • Reduced disease progression in patients needing oxygen, so that less of these patients required to go on to mechanical ventilation or ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation )(13% vs 23%).


Bottom line

  • Veklury is the first FDA approved treatment for COVID-19 in the United States for hospitalized COVID-19 patients that are 12 years and older and weigh at least 40 kg (88lb).
  • Veklury is not FDA approved for COVID-19 patients who are under 12 years old and weigh less than 40kg (88lb).
  • The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Veklury to be used in hospitalized pediatric patients who are in the weight range of 3.5 kg to 40 kg (7.7lb - 88lb), who have suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 and use of of an intravenous (IV) agent is clinically appropriate.

References
  1. https://www.drugs.com/newdrugs/fda-approves-veklury-remdesivir-covid-19-5368.html
  2. https://www.drugs.com/history/remdesivir.html
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857920300832?via%3Dihub
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5567817/
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0282-0

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