Springfield hospitals using newly FDA approved Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 11:18 AM CDT
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Despite FDA approval last week, Springfield hospitals have been using Remdesivir for nearly six months.

The FDA gave emergency use authorization for the drug back in May. The antiviral drug was first developed to treat Ebola. Medical personnel give it to patients in the hospital through an IV. And it works to stop replication of the coronavirus. It’s creator, Gilead Science, says it’s widely available to hospitals across the country because it worked early to expand manufacturing capacity.

In August, drug company Pfizer, agreed to manufacture Remdesivir at a Kansas facility. Missouri received some 3,000 cases of the antiviral in the last few months. Springfield hospitals have had no supply shortages of the drug. They’ve been using it, along with other therapies like convalescent plasma and a steroid medication to treat hospitalized patients.

Although it’s the first FDA approved Covid-19 treatment, healthcare professionals say it’s effectiveness varies and may depend on the timing of when it’s given.

“It’s a little bit hard to gauge the exact success rate on it,” said Dan Hansen, Mercy Clinical Pharmacy Specialist. “I think whenever you look at even the clinical trials, the data has been a little bit conflicting on it. We know it’s not a curative drug by any stretch. Some of the trials have shown that it does shorten the disease course for some patients, maybe prevents the disease progression as much in some patients.”

Health experts say antibody therapy seems promising. “Monoclonal antibodies have a good history for some diseases, for example, we’ve been using for many years now, monoclonal antibodies against RSV infection in little babies,” says Missouri State epidemiologist Dr. George Turabelidze. “The whole idea seems very promising.”

Unfortunately, one company just ended a hospital trial for one of those antibody therapies, finding it ineffective for hospitalized patients. But it says it is effective in keeping people out of the hospital. Springfield hospitals continue to encourage people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.

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