Ohio Receives Limited Amount Of Promising COVID-19 Drug Remdesivir

May 14, 2020

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced Wednesday the state has received enough remdesivir from the federal government to treat about 100 patients.

The antiviral drug has shown promise treating COVID-19 patients and received Emergency Use Authorization recently from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Ohio’s allocation is not enough to treat all patients, so we are working with medical experts to ensure distribution is based on clinical best practices,” said ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton in a news release.

A group of doctors, pharmacists, public health officials, and politicians, were chosen to decide how the limited supply of the drug will be distributed, according to the written statement. “The decision was based on the percentage of mechanically ventilated patients; which deems them to have the highest severity level."

Hospitals will also create their own internal process to decide which patients will receive the drug, according to ODH.

“Hospitals will be responsible for using clinical justification on the distribution of the medication to specific patients. Whenever the number of patients in need of remdesivir exceeds the supply of the medication, hospitals will use internal processes appropriate for the allocation of scarce resources."

The drug manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, sent a large shipment to the federal government, and the first shipments of the drug went to hotspots around the country where there were a large number of critically ill patients, said Dr. Leila Hojot, an infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals.

The original distribution process was a little chaotic, said Hojot, so the federal government shifted to rely on state health departments to distribute the drug to their hospitals, she said.

Hojot has been managing two UH clinical trials of remdesivir which are investigating the effectiveness of the antiviral medication on COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.

The trials have focused on if there is a difference between administering a 5-day or 10-day course of remdesivir, Hojot said.

“Our trial says whatever benefit that there is – it seems to be the same whether you get five or 10 days which is important particularly in wanting to make sure there’s enough medication for everybody,” she said.

The UH clinical trials are meant to go hand-in-hand with other national studies, she said.

A different study of the drug sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, was recently hailed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIAID, because the preliminary results were so promising.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci said during a meeting with President Trump last month. “This is highly significant."

The UH study, which involved about 80 local patients, is winding down and will be finished by the end of May, Hojot said.

The manufacturer is switching from a research mode to concentrate on making more of the drug, she said.

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