(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization.
The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery by five days — from 15 days to 10 on average — in a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Remdesivir was given to President Donald Trump when he suffered from COVID-19.
“The speed and rigor with which we have reached this milestone reflect the shared commitment of Gilead, government agencies and clinical trial investigators to advance new treatment options for patients in the fight against COVID-19,” said Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO.
It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now has become the first drug to win full U.S. approval for treating COVID-19.
Gilead says Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms) who need hospitalization for their coronavirus infection. It works by inhibiting a substance the virus uses to make copies of itself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.