South Korea’s Drug Ministry said Wednesday it was negotiating with US-based Gilead Sciences for emergency imports of remdesivir, a drug candidate that has shown clinical efficacy in treating COVID-19.
Remdesivir is Gilead Science’s proposed drug candidate for Ebola, which has been circuited to test its effect on the latest coronavirus pandemic.
In a pan-global clinical trial encompassing 73 institutes across 10 nations targeting over 1,000 COVID-19 patients, patients who were given remdesivir recovered 31 percent faster than those who were given placebo. The median number of days to recovery had shortened from 15 days to 11 days.
The ministry said that it decided to allow emergency imports of remdesivir, bypassing the conventional steps of drug approval, for two reasons. The first is that the shortened treatment time for medium to severely ill COVID-19 patients held clinical significance and there was need for a broader scope of treatment options to choose from.
As for the second reason, it cited other countries such as the US, Japan and the UK which are allowing the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19.
Gilead Sciences Korea could not comment on the details of the decision to import remdesivir. The volume of the drug or its import cost is pending negotiation.
In Korea, 850 confirmed COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized as of Wednesday. The country has so far reported an accumulated tally of 11,590 confirmed patients, among whom 10,467 were released after recovering. The death toll stands at 273.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)