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FDA approves remdesivir as first COVID-19 treatment

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The Food and Drug Administration has officially approved Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir for use in treatment of coronavirus, according to Fox Business.

President Donald Trump famously touted the drug — which he took — following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

What are the details?

Gilead Chairman and CEO Daniel O'Day commented on the big announcement, calling the development "incredible."

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilead has worked relentlessly to help find solutions to this global health crisis. It is incredible to be in the position today, less than one year since the earliest case reports of the disease now known as COVID-19, of having an FDA-approved treatment in the U.S. that is available for all appropriate patients in need," they said.

The FDA said that remdesivir is suitable for use on patients age 12 years and older. The antiviral drug should "only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care."

On Thursday, the New England Journal of Medicine published results from the biotech company's phase 3 trial, finding faster recovery times for adult treatment. The journal also pointed out that the drug was found to reduce the progression of the illness among severely ill patients who require oxygen therapy as part of their treatment.

CNBC reported that the drug, currently under the brand name Veklury, costs $2,340 for a five-day treatment course for people who are covered by government health programs. The five-day treatment costs $3,120 for U.S. patients with private health insurance.

"In August, the company said it planned to produce more than 2 million treatment courses of remdesivir by the end of the year and anticipated being able to make 'several million more' in 2021, adding it has increased the supply of the drug more than fiftyfold since January. Its manufacturing network now includes more than 40 companies in North America, Europe and Asia," the outlet added.

At the time of this reporting, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that there have been at least 8,411,262 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and at least 223,059 deaths attributed to the virus in the U.S.

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