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S.C. COVID-19 patients receive experimental drug

Staff Report //May 21, 2020//

S.C. COVID-19 patients receive experimental drug

Staff Report //May 21, 2020//

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Fifty-nine S.C. patients have been treated with remdesivir, a drug which recently received emergency use authorization from the U.S Food and Drug Administration for treating COVID-19 patients.

After the drug was shown during a clinical trial to shorten recovery time in some patients, pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences donated a supply to the U.S. government, according to a news release from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. South Carolina received enough doses to treat up to 66 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the subsequent federal distribution to states, DHEC said.

A controlled trial involving 1,063 patients found that hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 recovered 31% faster than a placebo group, according to the National Institutes of Health’s website. The median recovery time was 11 days for those treated with the drug, compared to 15 days for those receiving placebo.

Results also showed a mortality rate of 8% for those receiving remdesivir compared to 11.6% for the placebo group.

The trail, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first clinical trial in the U.S. to evaluate an experimental COVID-19 treatment, according to the NIH.

DHEC worked with the South Carolina Hospital Association and a statewide volunteer panel of ethicists, health professionals and medical experts to develop a distribution process for the drug. Requests were filled and distributed to hospitals within six hours of being received by DHEC, according to the release.

“We thank Gilead for their generous donation of remdesivir and hope that the doses of this drug we received will help shorten the course of COVID-19 illness in some patients and save the lives of South Carolinians,” Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC director of public health, said in the release. “We have worked with experts from around the state to develop a clinically and ethically sound framework for providing it to patients.”

DHEC has received additional doses of remdesivir, which will be distributed using the same allocation process, the agency said. Physicians may request a five-day treatment course through an online application sent to hospitals by the SCHA, and those requests will be reviewed by the advisory committee.

More information about remdesivir is available on DHEC’s website.