The antiviral drug remdesivir has been recommended for treating COVID-19 patients in Australia, by the national taskforce bringing together the country’s peak health groups.
The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce said Australian doctors treating adults with moderate, severe or critical coronavirus should consider using the drug to aid recovery times.
The antiviral drug is the first medication to be recommended as a considered treatment for patients hospitalised after contracting the virus.
Originally developed for to treat ebola, remdesivir has been shown in clinical trials to potentially recovery time for people with moderate to critical COVID-19 symptoms.
The taskforce’s executive director, Associate Professor Julian Elliott, said it was early days but the recommendation was a significant step forward.
“This is the first information we have that a drug has a beneficial effect as a treatment for COVID-19,” he said.
“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.”
Professor Elliott said the taskforce reviewed evidence to speed up the development of the recommendation in less than a fortnight.
Taskforce will review more evidence as it is published and update guidelines so Australian clinicians can provide the best possible care.
Remdesivir is not licensed for use in Australia, but the federal government has approved exemptions to some aspects of the Therapeutic Goods Act to allow it for context of clinical trials and for compassionate use.
The taskforce also said it understood there was a sufficient supply of remdesivir in Australia to meet expected demand.