What is Remdesivir, the first drug put forward to treat COVID-19 in Europe?
Remdesivir has become the first drug to be recommended for use by health authorities in the European Union to treat those suffering from COVID-19.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that the anti-viral drug should be authorised for use to treat patients with the coronavirus.
The drug, which is given through an IV, is designed to interfere with an enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material.
It is already approved for treating COVID-19 in Japan and is authorized for emergency use in the United States for certain patients.
On June 1, the creator of the drug, a biotech firm named Gilead, said that its experimental drug improved symptoms of COVID-19 when given to hospitalised, moderately-ill patients.
It said that a study involving 600 patients who had moderate pneumonia but did not need oxygen support revealed that those who took remdesivir for five days were 65% more likely to improve by at least one on a seven-point scale.
There were no deaths among patients on five days of the drug, two among those on 10 days, and four among patients getting standard care alone. Nausea and headache were a little more common among those on the drug.
A previous study in the U.S., led by the National Institutes of Health recently found that it shortened average recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients with severe disease.
On June 16, researchers in England said that a cheap, widely-available steroid – Dexamethasone – could reduce deaths by a third in severely ill hospitalised patients. When the results were published, the British government immediately authorised the use of the drug in the UK.