The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said Thursday that it has obtained and began to distribute the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, which has been shown to shorten recovery times for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
The drug was originally developed to fight Ebola, and has shown some effectiveness against COVID-19 as well, according to the FDA.
The drugmaker Gilead Sciences donated vials of the medication to the federal government which then distributed it to states.
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Earlier this month, South Carolina received enough doses in the initial allocation to give the drug to 66 patients, according to DHEC. So far, doctors for 59 patents have requested and received the treatment.
As of Wednesday, there were 414 patients in South Carolina hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
A Remdesivir advisory committee set up in part by DHEC and the South Carolina Hospital Association is in charge of allocating the drug at the request of physicians.
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“We thank Gilead for their generous donation of Remdesivir and hope that the doses of this drug we received will help shorten the course of COVID-19 illness in some patients and save the lives of South Carolinians,” said DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Joan Duwve in a news release. “We have worked with experts from around the state to develop a clinically and ethically sound framework for providing it to patients.”
Doctors can request a 5-day treatment of Remdesivir through an online application sent to hospitals by the South Carolina Hospital Association, and allocations will be determined by the advisory committee, according to DHEC.
An agency spokesperson said DHEC hopes to receive more doses, but they don't have a timeline of when to expect more.