Remdesivir hailed for helping treat coronavirus patients following FDA approval

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The drug "Remdesivir" is now the first coronavirus treatment approved by the FDA.

The drug, sold under the brand name Veklury, has been under emergency use since May but it can now be used for hospitalized patients.

Juana Glass is just one of the COVID-19 patients who said it has healed her.

"It made me feel better instantaneously," Glass said. "It was that quick from the moment I started the treatment."

The 49-year-old Chicago resident was given the drug as part of a clinical trial after she was hospitalized with the coronavirus back in March.

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Several Chicago hospitals conducted Remdesvir studies, including Rush.

"It has been found to decrease the duration of illness by 5 days," said Dr. Shivanjali Shankaren, a Rush Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist.

The drug is an antiviral that works by preventing the virus from multiplying.

Remdesvir is administered with an IV and is only FDA approved for hospitalized COVID-19 patients
"You don't have to be on oxygen, but you do have to have a lower respiratory tract infection, so you do have to have evidence of pneumonia," said Cook County Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Greg Huhn.

Cook County Health also conducted Remdesvir studies.

Dr. Huhn said patients were able to avoid complications further down the line the earlier they were given the drug.

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While he said it is not a cure for COVID-19, it is a treatment that is likely to make a big difference in patients' lives, as it did for Glass.

"I'm excited that they have agreed to move forward with this medication, especially with numbers increasing," Glass said.

While Remdesvir is for hospitalized patients only, there are ongoing studies to determine if the drug can be administered with a nebulizer or inhaler with the goal of giving it to outpatients one day.
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