COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has been provided with a limited supply of Remdesivir, a drug that recently received an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating patients with COVID-19.

According to the FDA, the 'investigational' drug was shown to shorten the recovery time for COVID-19 patients during a trial.

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Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company, donated vials of Remdesivir to the U.S. government to be distributed nationwide. South Carolina received enough doses to treat up to 66 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.  

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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 Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Director of Public Health. “We have worked with experts from around the state to develop a clinically and ethically sound framework for providing it to patients.”

According to the release, there were federal guidelines issued on how to administer the drug, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not initially provide a nationwide standard for determining which patients should receive the drug. 

DHEC worked with the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) and a volunteer panel of ethicists and health and medical experts from around the state to develop an ethically principled process based on available medical information to determine how the initial supply of Remdesivir was distributed.

“Working non-stop last week, the Remdesivir advisory committee developed a clinically informed, ethical framework for allocation of the medication to South Carolinians to ensure the process is fair, equitable, patient-centered and clinically sound,” said Dr. Dee Ford, Professor of Medicine and Interim Division Director, Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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According to the release, physicians in SC requested Remdesivir for 59 patients. These requests were filled and distributed within six hours, according to DHEC. 

DHEC has since received additional doses of the drug. These doses will be distributed using the same process, and physicians can request Remdesivir for patients with COVID-19. According to DHEC, they will receive the drug within 24 hours. 

Licensed practitioners may request a five-day treatment course of Remdesivir through an online application sent to hospitals by the SCHA, and those requests will be reviewed in line with the plan developed by the expert advisory committee.

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DHEC has provided federal information about Remdesivir to the state’s health care providers, and fact sheets about the drug have been added to the agency’s COVID-19 webpage.