By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that hundreds of cases of remdesivir, which has shown promise in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19, have been shipped to at least 13 states, with more on the way.

HHS said these initial distributions went to states hit hard by the virus (e.g., New York and New Jersey). “State health departments will distribute the doses to appropriate hospitals in their states because state and local health departments have the greatest insight into community-level needs in the COVID-19 response, including appropriate distribution of a treatment in limited supply,” according to an agency statement.

Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, has pledged to ship more than 600,000 vials of the drug to treat an estimated 78,000 hospitalized patients over the next six weeks.

Earlier this month, after promising preliminary results regarding remdesivir’s efficacy against COVID-19 emerged from ongoing clinical trials, federal officials moved quickly to accelerate the drug’s distribution. The Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization on May 1, and HHS (along with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) finalized an agreement with Gilead regarding initial remdesivir distribution on May 3.

Moving forward, HHS has requested hospitals submit certain data every week to better inform future decision-making for distributing remdesivir. Using the TeleTracking portal, facility leaders should input data concerning the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, patients under investigation for the virus, the number of patients with the virus who were sent to the intensive care unit, and patients with COVID-19 who have been placed on ventilators. More information and instructions are available in this special bulletin.

Be sure to check out the upcoming June 15 issue of Internal Medicine Alert, in which the authors of the regular feature “Pharmacology Update” will unpack the science of how remdesivir works against COVID-19.