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Australian Taskforce recommends Gilead's remdesivir for routine use in the country's COVID-19 patients

Published on 05/06/20 at 12:45pm
Image credit: Ulrich Perrey

Australia could be set to follow the decisions of other nations around the world in officially licensing Gilead’s antiviral therapy remdesivir in the treatment of COVID-19, after the country’s National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, a specialist team bringing together some of Australia’s leading health groups, has given its recommendation for routine use of the drug.

The taskforce found that available evidence supported the use of remdesivir in moderate, severe or critical cases of COVID-19 in order to speed recovery times in patients. The drug, originally developed to treat Ebola infection, has recently been approved for emergency use in India and South Korea for COVID-19 infection, following the earlier decision by the FDA to do the same in the US.

It marks the first decision in Australia to recommend a therapy for the treatment of COVID-19. The drug is not approved yet in the country, but has been made available through the Therapeutic Goods Act for use in clinical trials and compassionate use in patients.

“This is the first information we have that a drug has a beneficial effect as a treatment for COVID-19,” commented Associate Professor Julian Elliott, Executive Director of the country’s National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. “The preliminary data published so far from two clinical trials indicate that it can reduce the time for someone to recover from COVID-19. However, we do not yet have definitive information that remdesivir will reduce the risk of dying from the disease.”

The decision was based on recently released preliminary data from two studies showing benefit in recovery time in patients with COVID-19. The Taskforce confirmed it would now continuing analysing available data to ensure guidance on the use of the drug can be updated as needed.

Matt Fellows

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