Remdesivir, tocilizumab being considered for ‘restricted use’

New Delhi: Anti-viral drug remdesivir and tocilizumab, an immunomodulator, are being considered for "restricted use" on severely ill COVID-19 patients on "emergency and compassionate grounds", according to revised clinical management guidelines to be released soon. The much-touted anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine will continue to be used while azythromycin may be dropped from the treatment protocol, sources in the know of the developments told PTI.

A clinical management guideline issued on March 31 had recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin on COVID-19 patients who require ICU management. "Since COVID-19 is a new disease and there is no drug or vaccine for it as of now, treatment protocols are being revised from time to time based on emerging evidences," a source said.

Tocilizumab, an immunomodulatory drug that modifies the immune system or its functioning, will be used on experimental basis. Based on evidence, some more drugs to be used in combination with hydroxychloroquine may be added to the protocol, but no consensus has been reached regarding them as yet, the source said.

The new clinical management rules is in the process of being finalised by the National Task Force on COVID-19’s experts in a meeting on Sunday last. India’s drug regulator last week granted US pharma giant Gilead Sciences the marketing authorisation for its drug remdesivir for “restricted emergency use” on hospitalised COVID-19 in the nation, sources said. The approval process for remdesivir was accelerated in view of the emergency situation and the unmet need for medicines during the coronavirus outbreak. “This medicine, which is administered in the form of an injection, has been approved to be sold by retail on the prescription of specialists for use in a hospital or in institutional set-up only. It has been approved for use for a maximum of 5 days,” a source said.

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