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FDA approves first drug to treat COVID-19

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FOSTER CITY, Calif. (KRON) – US regulators have approved the first drug to treat COVID-19.

Remdesivir” is an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization.

Stanford was part of a clinical trial with the maker of the drug, Gilead Sciences, based in Foster City.

At Stanford, investigators have been studying Remdesivir since march and have seen a dramatic response.

Dr. Aruna Subramanian is leading Stanford’s clinical trial with Remdesivir and has seen the drug work with her COVID-19 patients.

“We’ve seen people get off oxygen quickly, get better faster, go home faster when you use this medication so I feel like it’s really helped especially when they’re on oxygen before they get intubated,” Dr. Subramanian said. 

On Thursday the Food and Drug Administration approved Remdesivir as the first drug to treat COVID-19.

It was authorized for emergency use in the spring.

The antiviral drug blocks an enzyme the virus needs to replicate. The drug is approved for people who are at least 12 years old who need hospitalization for their coronavirus symptoms but it comes with a hefty price tag.

The maker of the drug, Gilead Sciences, charges $2,340 for a typical treatment course for people covered by government health programs in the United States.

$3,120 for patients with private insurance. Out of pocket depends on insurance, income, and other factors.

“It’s something that we need to make sure that patient care comes first and people have access to all medicine so I hope the price point does come down. It does happen with other medications,” Dr. Subramanian said. 

President Trump seen with the CEO of Gilead Sciences received Remdesivir when he had COVID-19 earlier this month.

Infectious disease experts say the FDA’s approval is an important first step to treat the virus.

“There are people who really question how effective this drug is but I think that there is more than just mortality to look at. You have to really try to have to see how fast patients get better, how fast they’re getting people out of the hospital 4 or 5 days faster is important in the middle of COVID season and flu season,” Dr. Subramanian said. 

Stanford is also looking at another form of Remdesivir as an inhaled version.

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