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EU approves antiviral as first Covid-19 treatment

Credit: Belga

An anti-Ebola drug has become the first treatment to receive approval for treating Covid-19 patients in the European Union.

The European Commission on Friday gave market approval to remdesivir, an experimental antiviral manufactured by US firm Gilead and first developed to fight Ebola.

The European Union on Friday gave conditional market authorisation to the drug, a procedure used to speed up the approval of a drug which can address “unmet medical needs.”

Earlier, the EU’s drugs agency backed the use of remdesivir to treat Covid-19 patients over the age of 12 who with a serious case of Covid-19, namely those who had pneumonia and required oxygen therapy.

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While the agency said that clinical research had shown that the drug sped up recover of serious Covid-19 patients, it said that there was no evidence that remdesivir was effective for milder Covid-19 cases.

News of the drug’s approval in the EU come as the United States moved to hog nearly all stocks of the drug, announcing the purchase of virtually all of Gilead’s projected stocks for July, August and September.

The EU on Thursday said it was in talks with the US firm in efforts to secure remdesivir doses for EU member states.

Since the start of the pandemic, remdesivir is so far the second drug approved worldwide to treat Covid-19 patient at a cost of around $3,200 (around €2,850) per six-dose treatment, the Independent reports.

UK researchers in June announced that a much cheaper drug, dexamethasone, was the first drug capable of saving the lives of patients seriously ill with Covid-19 at a cost of “less than £50 (€55).

While both drugs have been given market approval in the UK, Belgium in June said that it would review the results of the dexamethasone study before adjusting its recommendations to hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times