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Remdesivir study underway by UT Health SA and University Health System

The drug is approved by the FDA to treat coronavirus patients.

SAN ANTONIO — Remdesivir has been used for months to treat patients with the coronavirus, but was just approved by the FDA last week. There is a trial taking place using the drug right here in San Antonio on patients with the disease.

Until there is a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus, therapeutics will be extremely important in fighting off the deadly disease. That's why medical experts say a trial currently underway by UT Health San Antonio and University Health System is so important. 

"So far we've had over 150 patients enroll in the three phases so we've had really enthusiastic uptake by the community to participate in these trials to develop new therapies," Dr. Thomas Patterson, a Professor of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases at UT Health San Antonio told us.

Even though the drug had already been approved for Emergency Use Authorization, the full approval opens more doors. "Fewer restrictions than we previously encountered with the emergency use authorization. It was particularly nice to see a validation of our ACT studies," Dr. Patterson said.

You may have heard about a large trial called the "Solidarity Trial" which studied four drugs, including Remdesivir, and was conducted by the World Health Organization. It followed 11,266 adults at 405 hospitals in 30 countries. The WHO said that the "conclusive" findings "suffice to refute early hopes" in the four drugs studied. But it wasn't a blind study which makes this trial even more important. Dr. Patterson added, "Both physicians and the patients knew which drug they were getting. It makes it much harder to assess whether the outcomes would be better and any reduced time for recovery."

Not just that, but these treatments for viral diseases are more effective if given early. "The patients were admitted to the hospital much later so the viral phase may have been mostly passed by then," Dr. Patterson said.

For that reason Dr. Patterson says if you come down with a severe case of coronavirus not to wait, get to the hospital right away.