Jan 21, 2022 - Health

FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients

Photo of a masked nurse in scrubs adjusting a pillow for an patient in a bed in the ICU ward

A medical worker in full PPE works on a patient who has COVID in a negative pressure room in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Jan. 4. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for some non-hospitalized adults and pediatric patients with mild to moderate COVID symptoms.

Why it matters: The move expands use of remdesivir, previously limited to only patients who were hospitalized, and comes as doctors face shortages of FDA-authorized treatments, per the Washington Post.

Details: The FDA approved remdesivir as a treatment for infected people ages 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds, have exhibited mild to moderate COVID symptoms and are at high risk for progression to severe cases of the virus. 

  • The drug can be administered via intravenous infusion for a total of three days and can help reduce risk of hospitalization for high-risk patients, according to the FDA.
  • It is, however, not a substitute for vaccination, which the FDA says remains the strongest preventative measure.

What they're saying: "[T]oday’s actions bolster the arsenal of therapeutics to treat COVID-19 and respond to the surge of the Omicron variant," Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

  • The FDA's approval will give people a treatment option "outside of a traditional inpatient hospital setting, including at skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare settings and outpatient facilities such as infusion centers." 
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