Phoebe Begins Using New COVID-19 Treatment Medication

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Wednesday, Phoebe will begin using an antiviral drug that has shown promising results in the treatment of COVID-19.  In a small clinical trial, some hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who received remdesivir recovered faster than those who received placebo.  “This is an encouraging development.  Remdesivir is the first drug shown through clinical research to be a potentially helpful tool in the treatment of COVID-19.  It certainly is not a cure, but it does appear to reduce the severity and length of the illness in some patients,” said Steven Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

Remdesivir has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the agency granted emergency use authorization in an effort to expand access to the drug under carefully controlled circumstances.  Georgia received an initial allotment of 30 cases from the federal government to distribute to hospitals treating significant numbers of COVID-19 patients.  

Phoebe received an initial allotment of 165 vials of remdesivir.  “Our physicians and pharmacists have carefully laid out protocols to identify patients for whom this treatment is appropriate under the strict guidelines of the emergency use authorization.  We are pleased to have this new option to help care for our COVID-19 patients, and we are hopeful that it will show positive results,” Dr. Kitchen said.

Phoebe is one of eight hospitals hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to receive remdesivir in Georgia’s first allotment.  The federal government is slated to send a larger allotment of the drug to the state next week.  “Although we are far below our peak numbers, we continue to care for dozens of COVID-19 patients, and our health system remains in the thick of the battle against this illness.  We certainly hope and expect to receive additional shipments of remdesivir as supplies become more readily available,” Dr. Kitchen said.

The results of the initial study showed the median duration of hospitalization was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared to 15 days for those who received placebo.  Results also suggested a survival benefit with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group.  The size and scope of the study did not provide enough evidence for the FDA to approve remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment, but this preliminary data did result in emergency use authorization.  The FDA will use information gathered under the authorization to further evaluate the effects of the treatment.