EU authorizes use of remdesivir to treat coronavirus
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EU authorizes use of remdesivir to treat coronavirus

Bloc’s health chief calls approval of drug, which studies have shown can reduce hospital stays for COVID-19 patients, ‘an important step forward in the fight against this virus’

A vial of remdesivir is pictured during a press conference about the start of a study with the anti-viral drug at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020. (Ulrich Perrey / POOL / AFP)
A vial of remdesivir is pictured during a press conference about the start of a study with the anti-viral drug at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020. (Ulrich Perrey / POOL / AFP)

BRUSSELS — The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Friday authorized the use of anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat the new coronavirus.

“Today’s authorization of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 is an important step forward in the fight against this virus,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.

“We are granting this authorization less than a month after the application was submitted, showing clearly the EU’s determination to respond quickly whenever new treatments become available,” she said.

At least two major US studies have shown that remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.

European Commissioners for Health Stella Kyriakides speaks during a joint video press conference at the EU headquarters in Brussels, May 28, 2020. (Aris Oikonomou / Pool Photo via AP)

Washington authorized the emergency use of the medicine — which was originally intended as a treatment for Ebola — on May 1, followed by several Asian nations including Japan and South Korea.

The green light comes on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency which gave its conditional authorization last week for the treatment of patients above 12 years of age who are suffering pneumonia and require extra oxygen.

It said its assessment was based mainly based on data from a study sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The research, published in the leading journal the New England Journal of Medicine in May, showed that injections of remdesivir speeded patient recovery compared with a placebo.

On average it reduced patients’ hospital stays from 15 days to 11.

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