Antiviral COVID-19 drug available to select Hoosiers

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana now has access to a drug known to help patients with COVID-19.

It’s called Remdesivir and studies show it decreases the time patients spend in the hospital. 

Indiana received 1,000 doses from FEMA but the worldwide supply is dwindling. 

Dr. Mark Bochan is the Chairman of Infectious Disease at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He said they have been using this drug for about 8 weeks as part of a clinical trial.

“It is helpful, the data that is coming out is supporting our anecdotal evidence,” said Bochan. “This drug will shorten your length of stay based on the most recent clinical trial that we’ve seen.”

Now that FEMA is shipping the drug to hotspots across the country, states need to prioritize its usage. 

Dr. Ram Yeleti is the Chief Executive Physician at Community Health Network. He said hospitals will need to decide which patients are more likely to succeed on the drug.

“The initial study would suggest the earlier the better,” said Yeleti. “So, we would try to get it before the ventilator or right as soon as they get on a ventilator.”

At one point, the drug, Hydroxychloroquine was considered as a COVID-19 treatment but Dr. Yeleti said it’s nothing like Remdesivir. 

“Hydroxychloroquine does not have any data showing it actually works and there’s a potential mortality if you take the drug so, I would not recommend taking that at all right now,” said Yeleti.

Dr. Yeleti said Remdesivir hasn’t shown dangerous side effects so far. 

“Relatively, it seems to be a safe drug to use,” explained Yeleti.

Remdesivir it isn’t the only COVID-19 treatment option right now. Doctors are learning more each day. 

“If you are put on your stomach as opposed to your back, that itself seems to be improving outcomes significantly, even more than some of these medications,” said Yeleti.

Ascension St. Vincent Infectious Disease Chairman Dr. Mark Bochan said he’s glad Remdesivir is more available in Indiana but it needs to be used wisely. 

“Hopefully, when they distribute these drugs, they will go to locations that have that kind of infectious disease support,” said Bochan.

The state said it is expecting more shipments of Remdesivir but has not said when or how many doses Indiana will get.

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