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US HOSPITALS NIX REMDESIVIR, LIMIT ITS USE TO SICKEST COVID PATIENTS

US hospitals have turned down about a third of their allocated supplies of the COVID-19 drug remdesivir since July as need for the costly antiviral wanes, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed on Friday (Saturday, September 12, 2020 in Manila), Deena Beasley reported for Reuters.

Some hospitals said they are still buying the Gilead Sciences medicine to build inventory in case the pandemic accelerates over the winter. But they said current supplies are adequate, in part because they are limiting use to severely ill patients. Houston Methodist Hospital is holding off on broader use of remdesivir, and instead is stockpiling it in case the pandemic flares up in winter - typically the peak season for respiratory illness. “At this point, we are buying far more than we are using because we are unsure about what will happen at the end of September,” said Katherine Perez, infectious disease pharmacist at Houston Methodist. There is no evidence that COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital for a day or two due to an underlying health issue, like diabetes or high blood pressure, would benefit from the drug, she added.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed more liberal remdesivir use, but 6 out of 8 major hospital systems contacted by Reuters said they were not using it for moderate cases. The slowdown suggests that a shortage of the drug is over and threatens Gilead’s efforts to expand use of remdesivir, which it sells under the brand name Veklury in some countries.


An HHS spokesperson confirmed on Friday that between July 6 and September 8, state and territory public health systems accepted about 72% of the remdesivir, which costs $3,120 for a 6-vial intravenous course, they were offered. Hospitals in turn purchased only about two-thirds of what states and territories accepted, as previously detailed to Reuters by Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.



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