COVID-19 treatment: South Korea, India authorise emergency use of remdesivir
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Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously in hospital, is the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials.
"Remdesivir can help reduce the amount of coronavirus in the body," South Korea's Ministry for Food and Drug Safety said in a statement. "This can help the patient's condition improve faster."
On Monday, Gilead reported the drug provided a modest benefit in patients with moderate COVID-19 given a five-day course of the treatment, while those who received the medicine for 10 days in the study did not fare as well.
Under guidelines announced by South Korea's Ministry for Food and Drug Safety, doctors can administer one dose of remdesivir a day, with 5 doses overall for patients with moderate symptoms, and 10 doses for patients with severe symptoms and who need oxygen support.
The ministry said it will cooperate with Gilead, the Korea Centers for Disease Control (KCDC) and Prevention and other ministries to swiftly import the drug, according to Reuters.
All patients must undergo a liver function test before taking the drug as possible side effects include elevated levels of liver enzymes, the ministry added,
On June 2, India ’s government has also approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use for five doses in treating COVID-19 patients.
The DCGI decided against extending its use to 10 days, based on existing evidence presented to it at the time of approval, the Indian Express newspaper had reported.
|(Photo: Daily hunt)|
The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization last month, citing results from a US government study that showed the drug reduced hospitalization stays by 31 percent, or about four days, compared to a placebo.
The US is the first country in the world to authorize the experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat patients with COVID-19. The authorization was announced by President Donald Trump on May 2. The move is called by Gilead chief executive Daniel O'Day “ a significant step towards easing the coronavirus crisis”, abc.net.au reported.
Three days after the U.S. drugmaker filed for fast-track approval for the treatment, Japan became the second country to authorize remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients.
“There has so far been no coronavirus medicine available here so it is a significant step for us to approve this drug,” Reuters quoted a Japanese health ministry official said at a press briefing. Remdesivir will be given to patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, he added.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government was getting ready to give a speedy green light to the experimental drug developed by U.S. firm Gilead Sciences, Japan Today reported.
South Korea has been battling small but steady new outbreaks of COVID-19, with 49 new cases reported on Tuesday, bringing the country's total to 11,590 cases with 273 deaths.
Last Thursday, South Korea re-imposed a series of COVID-19 social distancing measures it had eased early this month, as a series of clusters threatened to challenge its success in containing the epidemic. Museums, parks and art galleries were closed from last Friday for two weeks, while companies were urged to re-introduce flexible working, among other measures, Reuteres reported.
Meanwhile, India’s coronavirus infections crossed 200,000, the latest official figures showed, with the death toll at 5,815.
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