EU greenlights use of Remdesivir to treat COVID-19
BRUSSELS: Remdesivir, an antiviral drug produced by the California-based Gilead Sciences biopharmaceutical company, has become the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive the backing of the European Medicines Agency and at the same time the bone of contention between the EU and the US after the latter allegedly bought up the global supply of the drug.
The European Commission on Friday authorised the use of Remdesivir to treat coronavirus.
“Today’s authorisation of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 is an important step forward in the fight against this virus,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) earlier backed the use of Remdesivir. The agency cited Remdesivir’s positive results in clinical trials, showing the treatment to be safe and effective.
The EMA cited a clinical trial of more than 1,000 patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Those who received the treatment recovered, on average, four days sooner than those who received a placebo.
According to the EMA, COVID-19 patients who are in need of supplementary oxygen should be given Remdesivir for no more than nine days.
Stefan de Keersmaecker, a spokesman for the European Commission, said on Thursday that the EU was negotiating with Gilead Sciences the possibility of providing the bloc with a sufficient number of doses of the drug amid reports that the US intends to stockpile it.
The statement comes days after media outlets reported that the United States had purchased nearly all of Remdesivir’s reserves for the next three months from the biopharmaceutical firm, thus, significantly limiting European countries’ access to the drug.
While the first 140,000 doses of the drug were sold worldwide, in late June, Washington purchased about 500,000 doses, which is about 90 percent of the drug’s three-month supply.