Remdesivir approved for Covid-19 treatment in Singapore

Remdesivir is the only treatment so far shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a robust clinical trial.
Remdesivir is the only treatment so far shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a robust clinical trial.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Antiviral drug remdesivir can now be used to treat seriously ill Covid-19 patients in Singapore, making the country one of the first to get the nod for using the drug to treat the virus.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has granted conditional approval for Gilead Sciences' remdesivir, allowing infectious diseases specialists to administer the drug to some patients, the authority said on Wednesday (June 10), The Straits Times has learnt.

Remdesivir is the only treatment so far shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a robust clinical trial.

As part of the conditional approval, Gilead is required to collect the relevant safety data and to monitor the use of the drug. The approval was obtained in less than three weeks - Gilead filed for registration of remdesivir in Singapore on May 22.

Patients the drug can be administered to include those with low oxygen saturation levels less than or equal to 94 per cent, or who might require supplemental oxygen or more intensive breathing support such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation - a type of life support, or invasive mechanical ventilation, HSA said.

The approval is based on clinical data from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States' global phase three trial and another by Gilead, the drugmaker said in a statement on Wednesday.

Singapore participated in both trials and enrolled about 100 patients.

HSA is working with Singapore's Health Ministry and relevant experts to further define the subcategory of patients who are likely to benefit most from this medicine, it said.

Singapore enrolled its first patient in these trials on March 12. Remdesivir was previously available only through such clinical trials.