Experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir being distributed in Colorado

A shipment of the experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir has been received by the Colorado Unified Command Group (UCG), enough doses to treat about 100 COVID-19 patients.

The remdesivir shipment, sent to Colorado by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be used here to “investigate its benefit in improving recovery in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms,” according to a Colorado State Emergency Operations Center news release.

The UCG, which works at the state’s emergency center in Centennial, began distributing the remdesivir this week to eight hospital systems across the state.

“Supplies are being distributed in proportion to the number of COVID-19 cases and persons under investigation occurring at each hospital system,” the release said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization for the use of remdesivir for treatment of hospitalized coronavirus patients. About 607,000 vials of the experimental drug will be supplied over the next six weeks to treat about 78,000 hospitalized patients across the country.

“Preliminary results of a randomized controlled clinical trial suggested that remdesivir was associated with faster recovery for hospitalized patients,” the release said.

Multiple clinical trials are currently underway or in development.

Late last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, told the Associated Press that the use of remdesivir will help to free up hospital beds and take stress off the health care system.

“You do now have a drug that you have proven can actually work on the virus,” Fauci said.

The drug, however, will not be an “overwhelming cure” for coronavirus, Fauci added.

Remdesivir has reduced the time patients spent in the hospital by 31% to 11 days on average versus 15 days for patients given usual care based on preliminary results of a Gilead Sciences, Inc., study.

Gilead Sciences is an American biopharmaceutical company headquartered in California that researches, develops and commercializes drugs including remdesivir.

Administered through an IV, the remdesivir interferes with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. Fauci, in the AP interview, referred to the drug as becoming the “standard of care” and other potential treatments will have to be tested against or in combination with it.

In early April, a staff member of the UCG tested positive for coronavirus after self isolating due to being symptomatic. The UCG, which works with local, national and international vendors, has issued purchase orders for more than $46.2 million of medical supplies to distribute to health care facilities and government agencies across Colorado.

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