Britain to provide anti-viral drug remdesivir to some COVID-19 patients

FILE PHOTO: An ampule of remdesivir is pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. Ulrich Perrey/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will provide anti-viral drug remdesivir to certain COVID-19 patients that it is most likely to benefit as part of a collaboration with manufacturer Gilead Sciences (GILD.O), the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The department of health said that early data from clinical trials around the world showed that the drug could shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients by four days.

“As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority,” junior health minister James Bethell said.

“We will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”

The government said that the allocation of the drugs would be determined by where they would have the greatest benefit, but did not say how many patients would be treated under the arrangement.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week said that data from its trial of remdesivir showed that the drug offers the most benefit for COVID-19 patients who need extra oxygen but do not require mechanical ventilation.

The researchers also said that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the antiviral drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Gilead said it expects results from its own study of remdesivir in patients with moderate COVID-19 at the end of this month.

Reporting by Alistair Smout and Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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