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'Promising' treatment against coronavirus coming soon to Baton Rouge

8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, April 28 2020 Apr 28, 2020 April 28, 2020 11:00 PM April 28, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

UPDATE: The FDA approved the drug for emergency use on coronavirus patients Friday. Read more here: https://www.wbrz.com/news/fda-allows-emergency-use-of-drug-for-coronavirus

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BATON ROUGE- An experimental, yet promising treatment against coronavirus is on its way to Baton Rouge.

On Wednesday, researchers released their findings on the antiviral drug ‘remdesivir.’ They say the drug can stop the virus from replicating inside the body, and significantly decrease how long patients need to stay in the hospital.

“This is the first drug that’s been proven to work for this disease in a rigorously conducted clinical trial. So it’s very exciting,” Doctor Hollis O’Neal, the Medical Director of Research at OLOL said.

Starting next week, a few patients at Our Lady Of The Lake Regional Medical Center will be receiving the drug through Gilead Science's expanded access program.

“It’s a drug that inhibits the replication of the virus, of this coronavirus. It works by inhibiting the enzyme that’s required for the virus to actually build its RNA,” O’Neal said.

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Doctor Anthony Fauci, revealed the results of an international clinical trial involving around 1,000 patients. 

“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci said. “This will be the standard of care.” 

Both doctor Fauci and Doctor O’Neal detailed how the drug seems to help patients recover faster from the virus.

“They defined recovery as being discharged from the hospital, back home. And they found that in patients who got the drug, they were discharged, on average, about 11 days later. Whereas if they did not get the drug the patients who got the placebo were discharged at 15 days. And so there was a significant reduction in the amount of time in the hospital for these patients who got the medication,” O’Neal said.

Remdesivir is delivered through an IV. It was reportedly created to fight Ebola and is known to have few side effects, according to ABC News.

O’Neal says the biggest difference between this drug and others like hydroxychloroquine is the amount of research done to prove that remdesivir works and is not harmful to patients.

“Hydroxychloroquine has not been through a rigorously conducted clinical trial. There’s some that are underway but none that have been completed yet,” O’Neal said.

Starting as soon as next Monday, 10 patients at OLOL will start receiving remdesivir. O’Neal says the program will likely be expanded in the coming days.

“The anticipation is now the FDA will probably give an emergency use authorization of the medications, so that it will be widely available on the market,” O’Neal said.

Medical experts across the country and world hope this treatment method will continue to prove to be a solid resource in helping patients beat the virus as its access is expanded.

“Prior to now, if you come, you get the most aggressive standard of care for supporting you and allowing your immune system to help us fight the virus. This actually gives us another tool to be able to fight the virus independent of the patients' immune system,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal stressed that remdesivir is not the singular miracle drug that people might be hoping for, but he says it is a big step in the right direction towards identifying similar medications and treatments that are proven to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside the body.

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