Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral drug to fight Sars-cov 2, the virus that causes Covid-19.(REUTERS)
Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral drug to fight Sars-cov 2, the virus that causes Covid-19.(REUTERS)

Govt bans export of Remdesivir: Know all about the drug

  • FDA had to issue an emergency use authorisation of Remdesivir to give doctors access to the medication outside of an investigational (clinical trial) setting.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 11, 2021 07:37 PM IST

Amid increased demand for Remdesivir due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Centre on Sunday said the export of the antiviral injection and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) has been banned till the situation improves in the country. The decision comes days after several states reported a shortage of the anti-viral drug or injection used to treat novel coronavirus disease. Several areas in a few states are witnessing people queueing up outside medical stores for the drug as coronavirus cases in the country touch over daily highs for the last few days.

On Thursday, the Maharashtra government capped the price of Remdesivir between 1100 and 1400 per vial and warned against its hoarding and black marketing.

On Sunday, the Madhya Pradesh government said a sizeable batch of the drug has arrived and will be distributed to medical facilities as per requirement.

What is Remdesivir?

Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral drug to fight Sars-cov 2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral therapy Remdesivir in October 2020, making it the first drug to obtain formal clearance for treating the coronavirus disease. It was given to former US president Donald Trump in October last year when he was diagnosed with the viral disease.

How did Remdesivir come into use?

FDA had to issue an emergency use authorisation of Remdesivir to give doctors access to the medication outside of an investigational (clinical trial) setting. Beginning in May last year, doctors were able to give Remdesivir to patients who were hospitalised with severe Covid-19, rather than limiting its usage to those who were participating in clinical trials.

After hospitalised Covid-19 patients nationwide began receiving Remdesivir, FDA evaluated new data about the drug’s effectiveness. In August, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorisation, allowing all hospitalised patients with Covid-19 to receive the drug, including people with mild and moderate disease. In October, FDA changed Remdesivir’s status from an emergency use authorisation medication to an approved drug.

How is Remdesivir given to Covid-19 patients?

The drug is given intravenously to hospitalised Covid-19 patients. People typically receive an injection once a day for 5 to 10 days, based on the severity of their condition.

How does Remdesivir help Covid-19 patients?

Remdesivir prevents coronavirus from producing a particular enzyme that is necessary for the virus to replicate itself. Once this happens, the virus is no longer able to spread within the body.

Research shows that when patients with moderate Covid-19 receive Remdesivir, their symptoms improve more quickly. The drug has also been shown to shorten the duration of patient hospital stays. Among severely ill Covid-19 patients, Remdesivir has been associated with fewer deaths.

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