Remdesivir: Treatment for the Coronavirus


Abby Turner, Writer

The antiviral treatment remdesivir is showing promise for the treatment for the novel coronavirus in clinical trials. The U.S. government is currently working with the company Gilead Sciences on fast-tracking the treatment through FDA approval. Now, remdesivir has been declared for emergency use and production has begun to make 140,00 rounds by the end of May.

Remdesivir is not a new drug, it has been tried to treat illnesses in the past. The drug shows promise to coronavirus-type illnesses like SARS and MERS. It was even explored as a possible option for treating Ebola and failed as a treatment for hepatitis. Although the drug has been discovered before, it needed tweaks to treat coronavirus. But now, the drug is bypassing many steps drugs typically would take to get through FDA regulations, a concern if side-effects of the drug are unknown.

As remdesivir showed promise in a clinical trial, it is now being used by the United States. Clinics are continuing trials with remdesivir as it is used on the public with hopes of gaining more information about how the drug is working. In the first trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, remdesivir shortened the average hospital stay of 15 days to 11 days. Treatment also decreased the mortality rate of the coronavirus. The drug is currently available for those seriously ill with coronavirus. The drug also shows promise for years to come, as mutated strains of coronavirus are less likely than that of the flu because the RNA “self corrects,” making mutated strains weaker. But a big question posed is who will pay for the remdesivir treatments and how much it will cost?

The price tag Gilead Science put on remdesivir: $4,460. Even if the company only charged $1,000 for the 10-day treatment, Gildead Science could rack in a billion dollars in sales this year. As of right now, the company is donating the first 1.5 million units to the United States government. But what happens when the drug must be paid for by the patient? According to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a price tag of $1,000 or even $4,460 is reasonable in the healthcare world. As of now, Gilead Science has not released its plan of distributing this drug to the public when their donation to the government runs out.