WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the drug remdesivir in Covid-19 patients after researchers reported that it shortened the recovery times in people who have fallen ill from the new coronavirus.
The FDA action limits the use of the drug, produced by Gilead Sciences Inc., for only through the duration of the pandemic, but health regulators could grant full approval if more benefits emerge from a large study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other clinical trials under way.
The institute said that a preliminary analysis of its study showed that hospitalized Covid-19 patients taking remdesivir had a speedier recovery than patients taking placebo — though the reported benefit was moderate, with remdesivir patients recovering in 11 days, or four days faster than the placebo group.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug administered intravenously and previously tested as a treatment for Ebola, is among the most closely watched experimental treatments for Covid-19, and is being studied in multiple clinical trials around the world. The drug is the first to show a benefit in treating Covid-19 in a major clinical trial.