May 12, 2020 / 3:14 AM / 24 days ago

EMA recommends expanding compassionate use of Gilead's COVID-19 drug

FILE PHOTO: An ampule of Ebola drug Remdesivir is pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. Ulrich Perrey/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) - The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday recommended that the compassionate use of Gilead Sciences Inc’s (GILD.O) experimental drug remdesivir be expanded so that more patients with severe COVID-19 can be treated.

Countries across the world have shown a keen interest in remdesivir due to the lack of other approved treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, which has caused over 282,000 deaths globally, according to Reuters tally.

EMA last month recommended that the antiviral drug should be used for treating COVID-19 in compassionate use programmes, which allow the use of medicines still under development outside a clinical study under strictly-controlled conditions.

In addition to patients undergoing invasive mechanical ventilation, remdesivir can now be given to hospitalised patients requiring supplemental oxygen, non-invasive ventilation and high-flow oxygen devices or those on extracorporeal life support, EMA said on Monday.

The agency, which last month started a rolling review of data on the use of remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment, said it also introduced a five-day course of the drug, alongside the longer 10-day course, for patients not requiring assisted ventilation.

Gilead earlier this month received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for using remdesivir as a treatment against COVID-19, after the drugmaker provided data showing the drug had helped patients.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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