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SGMC administers first dose of new coronavirus treatment Friday

(WCTV)
Published: May. 29, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 29, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- South Georgia Medical Center is one of about 85 medical facilities in Georgia selected to receive and administer a new COVID-19 treatment, Remdesivir.

The drug was originally developed to fight Ebola, but was not successful.

The first successful, randomized and clinically-controlled trial took place about one month ago at Emory University, when it was tested against the coronavirus.

"In about 30% of patients, they did have a significant improvement in their symptoms, and there was a trend towards an improvement in mortality as well," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Dawson said.

Now, the Georgia Department of Health has received the drug from the federal government and distributed 18,440 vials throughout the state to the chosen hospitals.

"We're really excited that we've been allowed some distribution of Remdesevir," director of pharmacy services Scott Smith said.

The press release from DPH states:

"Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine being used to treat hospitalized patients with serious symptoms caused by COVID-19 like low oxygen levels or pneumonia. It has been found to shorten the duration of disease in patients being treated in inpatient hospital settings. Remdesivir is given intravenously (IV) and decreases the amount of coronavirus in the body, helping patients recover faster."

While Remdesivir is not approved by the FDA for widespread use, the agency has granted certain hospitals like SGMC emergency-use authorization only.

Dr. Dawson signed off on his protocol Friday, allowing him and his team to administer their first dose.

"For us to have this additional tool in our arsenal, that gives us something else that we can use to help our patients day in and day out. So we're very pleased," Dr. Dawson said. "We're very proud that we were selected to have this opportunity, and it's something that we don't intend to waste. We're gonna take advantage of this."

He says when they begin administering Remdesivir regularly, they will report their results back to the CDC and other agencies.

The team received the drug Thursday afternoon, and their first patient was treated with it Friday morning.

"I think it's wonderful that we finally have the drug that has been named the drug of choice for this disease at this time," Control Officer with SGMC's Infectious Disease and Prevention Greg Beale said.

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