Dutch approve anti-viral medication for Covid-19 treatment

Stock image of a Covid-19 coronavirus microscope analysis
Stock image of a Covid-19 coronavirus microscope analysis DmyToDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Anti-viral medication remdesivir was approved for the treatment of patients with Covid-19, the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) announced on Thursday. The intravenous drug was initially created to help patients with the Ebola virus disease, and was given a conditional approval of one year, with the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, required to provide more information by the end of the year.

"We are pleased to have approved a first drug to treat patients with COVID-19. However, we are not there yet," said Prof. Ton de Boer, the President of the MEB. "Remdesivir is not the drug that cures you of a coronavirus infection. Therefore, further research is still being conducted worldwide into possible medicines and vaccines against COVID-19."

The decision is contingent on the European Commission granting its approval next week. The European government already received positive advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), based in Amsterdam, last month.

"Remdesivir is a 'viral RNA polymerase inhibitor', the EMA explained. As such, it is "a medicine that interferes with the production of viral genetic material, preventing the virus from multiplying."

Once Europe gives the green light, "this drug may be prescribed within the European Union to corona patients who are hospitalized with pneumonia and who need extra oxygen. These patients recover on average four days earlier by treatment with remdesivir," the Dutch authority said.

"The most common side effects are increased liver function enzymes, headache, nausea and (skin) rash," the MEB said. Initially, remdesivir will only be used with patients who have at least a moderate case of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The MEB said there is no evidence yet showing that the drug can also help patients with a mild case of Covid-19.

Covid-19 decrease in hospitals, but ICUs remain stable

The announcement by the MEB was made on the same day that Dutch hospitals saw a ten percent reduction in the number of their Covid-19 patients. Outside of the ICU, hospitals were treating 178 people for the disease, a decrease of 19.

The Covid-19 situation in the Dutch intensive care system held stable. There were 49 patients in ICU on Thursday with the coronavirus disease, the same as the day before.

Of the 2,923 people treated for the disease in intensive care, 864 died during their hospital stay, while 1,804 recovered and were discharged.