The Department of Health and Social Care has approved the first medicine to treat coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK.
Remdesivir, an antiviral treatment, has been authorised for selected patients in NHS hospitals. They will be able to access it shortly to speed up their recovery process.
At present, and due to limited supplies, priority will go to adults and adolescents who meet certain clinical criteria and are considered to have the greatest likelihood of gaining the most benefit from the drug.
Remdesivir is currently part of clinical trials worldwide, including in the UK, with current data showing that it can shorten recovery time by approximately four days.
In light of these results, Government departments are collaborating with manufacturer Gilead Sciences to supply the medication, and the NHS, devolved administrations, and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have also contributed to efforts.
Initially used for ebola, Remdesivir has already been granted emergency authorisation for Covid-19 in the USA and Japan.
Lord Bethell, minister for innovation, said: ‘This shows fantastic progress. As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority
‘The latest, expert scientific advice is at the heart of every decision we make, and we will continue to monitor Remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.’
Dr June Raine, chief executive of MHRA, added: ‘We are committed to ensuring that patients can have fast access to promising new treatments for Covid-19.
‘We will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other healthcare partners on protecting public health in the UK by prioritising our essential work on clinical trials, access to medicines, and the development of vaccines.’