Korea mulling Ebola drug for coronavirus treatment

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Korea mulling Ebola drug for coronavirus treatment

Korea is considering importing Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment after the experimental Ebola antiviral drug earned approval for emergency use from the United States.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Saturday that the agency is preparing to grant special permission for remdesivir to be imported to the domestic market if the ongoing clinical trials in the country are successful.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) Friday for remdesivir to be used in treating hospitalized coronavirus patients.
“The recent FDA approval doesn’t mean official permanent use authorization, and there are experts who question the statistical validity of remdesivir’s ability in treating coronavirus patients,” said KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook in a regular press briefing Saturday. “But we know what it means for the FDA to provide EUA for remdesivir.”
Kwon added that the special import would only be allowed after careful review of the clinical studies on remdesivir in Korea.
In coordination with Gilead Sciences, a total of 10 countries are conducting clinical studies for remdesivir. Three hospitals in Korea are carrying out studies of the antiviral drug and results are expected to be announced  as early as late this month.
In early results from a clinical trial at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), coronavirus patients who were injected with remdesivir recovered 31 percent faster than those in the placebo group.
There are also calls for additional studies into whether remdesivir can reduce the fatality rate for Covid-19. The same NIH study also revealed that the fatality rate was 8 percent for those who received remdesivir, while the rate stood at 11.6 percent for the placebo group.
BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]
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