According to the CNN, researchers released some good news about a possible treatment for coronavirus Wednesday — evidence that the experimental drug remdesivir might help patients recover more quickly from the infection.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus. But it plans to announce an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir, according to The New York Times. The authorization could come as soon as Wednesday, The Times reported, citing a senior administration official.
In a statement to CNN, the FDA said it is in talks with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, about making the drug available to patients.
“As part of the FDA’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in … discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in statement.
The government-funded study found that patients who took remdesivir recovered faster than patients who did not. It’s not a home run, but federal officials are keen to provide any hope they can in a pandemic that has infected more than 1 million Americans and killed close to 60,000 of them.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was optimistic about the results.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Results from the preliminary trial show remdesivir improved recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days. That’s similar to the effect that the influenza drug Tamiflu has on flu. Tamiflu also doesn’t cure patients quickly, but can reduce how long they are sick.
“Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is very important proof of concept,” Fauci said of remdesivir. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”
Remdesivir also may reduce the likelihood that patients will die.
“Results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group,” the NIAID said.
Normally, data about a drug’s efficacy wouldn’t be released this early from a preliminary trial.
But “whenever you have clear-cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people in the placebo group know so that they can have access,” Fauci said.