LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved remdesivir as the first drug to treat COVID-19. While many Louisville hospitals were already using the drug with emergency use authorization, now it’s believed more patients may be willing to try the drug with the new federal approval.
The approval of remdesivir Thursday came as welcome news to doctors who have already seen it in action.
“We have offered as an organization through individual providers remdesivir to patients with COVID-19 who have declined,” Dr. Paul Schulz, an infectious disease specialist with Norton Healthcare, said.
His Norton colleague Dr. Ashley Wilde, a Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator added, “Potentially more patients will feel more comfortable knowing that is has been evaluated by the FDA.”
The Louisville doctors say the official thumbs-up brings some patients a feeling of safety and that may be the biggest plus to the FDA’s approval of the anti-viral drug.
While some patients refused it when it was made available for emergency use in May, others actually requested it. That was the case with Marilyn Newton, 61, who spent two months in the hospital battling COVID-19, most of that time on a ventilator. Her Louisville family believes several doses of remdesivir was what eventually led to her recovery.
“We found out she was getting the treatment,” Newton’s son Remiah said, “and it was like, we won the lottery.”
The drug that’s been shown to help patients recover more quickly from COVID-19 can be used for hospitalized patients over the age of 12. It’s one of the drugs that was used to treat President Donald Trump when he was recently hospitalized.
Although doctors at Norton Healthcare have used it on hundreds of patients already, there are still a lot of questions.
“With the data we have about how well remdesivir works,” Dr. Wilde said, “we still don’t know exactly which patients are best suited for treatment.”
Doctors say because COVID-19 is still so new, more trials need to be done on the drug to find out which patients would benefit the most with certain doses and durations.
When there’s FDA approval of a drug like remdesivir it usually becomes more widely available, but if cases of COVID-19 go up, it could affect the supply chain.