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Results from a National Institutes of Health clinical trial support the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir in treating coronavirus after data pointed to improved recovery time for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Gilead Science’s experimental remdesivir received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration last month. Though remdesivir has not received formal approval for use, hospitals nationwide have administered the drug to some critically ill coronavirus patients after a federal shipment earlier this month.
The NIH trial, published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the drug shortens time to recovery. The double-blind trial involved 1,063 patients who underwent randomization to either receive remdesivir intravenously or a placebo.
The median time to recovery was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared with 15 days for those who received the placebo, according to the data.
The international study defined “recovery” as discharge from the hospital or being medically stable enough to be discharged from the hospital.
Researchers found the drug was most beneficial in severe cases of coronavirus requiring supplemental oxygen.
However, reserachers also noted a high mortality rate despite remdesivir treatment and advised future strategies evaluating antiviral agents in combination with other therapeutic approaches to improve patient outcome.
It is believed that treatment with an antiviral drug alone "is not likely to be sufficient," according to the NEJM report.