The government today (May 26) announced that selected patients with severe Covid-19 will be allowed to be treated with remdesivir.
The specific criteria for the use of the anti-viral medicine, originally developed to fight Ebola, have yet to be laid out clearly, but hospital doctors are expected to use their judgement to decide, on a case-by-case basis, who would benefit from it the most.
Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug is currently undergoing large international clinical trials, including in the UK, and early data suggests it can cut recovery time by about four days.
“This shows fantastic progress, said Lord James Bethell, Government minister for innovation, adding: “As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority.
“The latest, expert scientific advice is at the heart of every decision we make, and we will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”
The Government said it continues to work closely with its partners across the Devolved Administrations, the health system and industry to ensure UK patients have the greatest possible chance of getting the latest, ground-breaking treatments as quickly as possible.
Produced by the California-based company, Remdesivir has been approved under the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave its go-ahead for NHS doctors to use the drug on patients who are seriously ill with the disease.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “We are committed to ensuring that patients can have fast access to promising new treatments for COVID-19.
“We will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other healthcare partners on protecting public health in the UK by prioritising our essential work on clinical trials, access to medicines, and the development of vaccines.”
Allocation of the drug, expected to be available immediately to hospitals across the UK, will be based on expert clinical advice.
Hilary Hutton-Squire, vice president and general manager, Gilead Sciences UK and Ireland said: “Treatment options in response to this global public health emergency are urgently needed and we are grateful to the UK government and the MHRA for their continued support and collaboration to make this medicine available to those patients who are most likely to benefit from it.
“We will continue to work closely with the government to supply remdesivir across the UK.”