As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Remdesivir has been around for decades and has been used to treat Ebola, another potentially fatal illness caused by a virus. Back in April, its manufacturer, Gilead Pharmaceuticals, announced that one limited study of about 400 patients showed half of the sickened patients who were given the drug were discharged from the hospital within 14 days; some were discharged in as little as five days.
At the time, Aruna Subramanian, a lead investigator of the study, called the results "encouraging."
"These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course," she said.
Though early results are not the same thing as hard, scientific data gleaned from multiple, peer-reviewed clinical studies under controlled scientific studies (a process that can take years), the early data on Remdesivir does add it to the existing set of tools doctors can use in treating the disease, as the cure for it has so far proved elusive.
It's been granted temporary approval for emergency use in treating COVID-19 patients.
However, it appears as if it's going to be an expensive treatment. Specifically, a single vial will cost $390 and a five-day course will cost $2,340. In September, according to Politico, the price will increase 33 percent, to $520 per vial, or $3,120 for a five-day course.
In a statement, Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day said that, without the drug, a patient (or their insurance company), would be paying an even higher price for COVID-19 treatment, assuming they survive the illness.
"Even just considering these immediate savings to the healthcare system alone, we can see the potential value that remdesivir provides. This is before we factor in the direct benefit to those patients who may have a shorter stay in the hospital," O'Day said.
Meanwhile, another drug has also shown promise in the fight against COVID-19, one which could be considerably more economical. Dexamethasone is a common steroid that, like Remdesivir, has been around for decades. However, unlike Remdesivir, dexamethasone is not patent-protected and thus can be produced cheaply by competing manufacturers.
As Reuters reported, a potentially life-saving dose of the cheap steroid could potentially cost as little as $7.85.
However, dexamethasone, in early trials, only appeared to work on the sickest of patients -- those who required the use of ventilators or respiratory support. Among patients who did not require those life-saving measures, the drug showed no real benefit.