Coronavirus: the European Union allows putting Remdesivir on the market

Published by Manon C., Laurent P. · Published on 7 July 2020 at 10h55 · Updated on 7 July 2020 at 11h21
Remdesivir is at the heart of research against coronavirus and has been adopted in the United-States in early May. The European Union is now validating the authorization to put the treatment on the market.

While hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is subject to debate in France, the United States bets everything on remdesivir, an experimental antiviral medication, first created to cure people suffering from Ebola fever. So much that the country bought almost the entire production, making other countries fear a shortage.

According to Belgian daily La Libre, the drug has been given "conditional authorization of commercialization" by the European Commission on Friday July 3, 2020, known as Veklury to cure coronavirus cases in the European Union. This is the first drug to be allowed to be put on the market since the health crisis broke out. It will be given to adults and teenagers suffering from severe respiratory syndroms.

How does the drug work? This is an injectable medication that directly attacks the virus by bypassing it to prevent it from replicating itself. The explanation of the Gilead’s chief medical officer, Merdad Parsey seems believable: “By limiting the viral replication, you're going to limit the inflammation, you're going to reduce the number of people who develop lung injury, and you're going to get them off the ventilator faster” Gilead medical head Merdad Parsey explained earlier this month.

This medicine has been judged disappointed in the fight against Ebola, but it delivered good results against SRAS and MERS. This is why it has been taken out when coronavirus arrived.

After 3 weeks of experiments, an American study released on May 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine draws conclusion as of the administration of remdesivir to coronavirus sick, in a clinical trial conducted on over a thousand people, and in 10 countries, supervised by Anthony Fauci, also known as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

And the New England Journal of Medicine confirms the effectiveness of Remdesivir: intravenously injected daily for 10 days, the antiviral has accelerated the recovery of sick at the hospital in comparison with a placebo: 11 days against 15 days without a treatment.

The positive impact being the most important in sick at the hospital who were not assisted by life support, the authors of the study conclude that it was best to start a treatment with Remdesivir before the disease spreads to the point of life support is needed.

By the way, the study also shows that Remdesivir also enabled to lower the death rate: 7.1% of patients in the Remdesivir group died in 14 days against 11.9% in the placebo group. This result remains yet below the statistical reliability threshold.

The authors of the study conclude: "it is clear that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient". A mix of several drugs is then necessary to make it to the end of the coronavirus infection.

On March 11, the Haut Conseil de la Santé Publique recommended Remdesivir for severe forms and on "compassionate use". Remdesivir has been included in the European clinical Trial Discovery, results are yet to be known. It is already used in France. One of the first patients in France, the one in Bordeaux, has been cured with this medicine.

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