WAUWATOSA — A breakthrough in the search for a COVID-19 treatment as new data from a clinical trial reveals the positive effects of an antiviral drug in fighting the virus. Soon, it will be given to certain patients at Froedtert Hospital.
The drug is called Remdesivir, and it's gaining praise from top health officials, including Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci is optimistic about early results from a trial on the drug and talked about it during a meeting Wednesday with President Donald Trump.
"The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Dr. Fauci said.
He said patients treated with Remdesivir had a 31 percent faster recovery rate than those who were given a placebo.
"All of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care," Dr. Fauci said.
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The developments come as Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa announced they'll be using Remdesivir as a treatment for certain COVID-19 patients. It's a part of a program from Gilead Sciences, the drug's manufacturer.
Froedtert Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Dr. Mary Beth Graham, is on the frontlines of the hospital's response to the virus.
"I was extremely excited when I found out we finally got into one of their trials," Dr. Graham said.
She said they'll only be able to provide the drug to 10 patients who are on ventilators and have a certain level of kidney and liver function.
"We can use this in order to treat the virus and hopefully prevent them from progressing, getting more lung damage, etc., getting them off the ventilators sooner, then they'll have a better recovery," Dr. Graham said.
However, research and drug trials are still ongoing, and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. John Raymond, said it remains unclear how effective the drug is in treating patients who are critically ill versus those who are mildly sick.
"I think it's possibly good news, but this is not going to be a magic solution," Dr. Raymond said.
Nonetheless, experts say this is a big step in finding a treatment for COVID-19.
Froedtert hopes they'll have the drug by the end of the week or early next week.
According to multiple reports, Remdesivir could gain FDA approval for emergency use by the end of Wednesday.