Drug Becomes First to be Approved Treatment for COVID-19

For months and months, researchers have been looking for proven treatments for COVID-19. The virus is all over the U.S. and the world. When asked where hot spots of COVID-19 were, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, said, “really in all parts of the country.” Remote areas of the country are seeing far higher numbers of cases than they had. The country is seeing the highest daily number of new infections since July.

In May, the drug remdesivir was authorized for emergency use. Now, the FDA has approved it as it cuts recovery time from COVID-19 by an average of five days. The difference is modest, but any weapon against COVID-19 is useful. Their decision came after looking at data from three different studies. The amount of information made the FDA feel comfortable approving it. But, in the U.S., the drug costs $3,120 for a five-day course if you have insurance. People covered by government health programs pay $2,340.

Today’s approval is supported by data from multiple clinical trials that the agency has rigorously assessed and represents an important scientific milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. “As part of the FDA’s Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, the agency will to continue to help move new medical products to patients as soon as possible, while at the same time determining whether they are effective and if their benefits outweigh their risks.”

The FDA did say that remdesivir couldn’t be used by itself as a treatment. It needs to be part of a treatment plan. “The findings show that remdesivir alone isn’t a sufficient treatment for all patients but does provide some benefit,” said the FDA in their final report. “Studies are underway to evaluate remdesivir in combination with other therapies.”

The World Health Organization has said that the drug hasn’t shown enough of an effect to be approved. After their own studies, they have concluded that the drug has little to no impact on patients.

People are moving inside as the weather is getting colder and colder, causing spikes in infection rates. It’s essential to continue to follow all the safety guidelines. Researchers are still working. This drug is not the final word in treatment, but it is a glimmer of hope. Knowing that the FDA has confirmed that it makes a difference shows that there are drugs — at least one already on the market — that can treat COVID-19. While we wait for more breakthroughs, we’re going to be thankful for finds like remdesivir, and we’ll keep hoping more help comes soon.

Banner Image: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
October 26, 2020
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