Update 6/19: WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital received a second allocation of remdesivir on June 18.

Update 7/2: WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital received a third allocation of remdesevir on July 1.

WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital has received a supply of the experimental drug remdesivir from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and is now using the drug to treat patients with COVID-19.

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Remdesvir is an anti-viral medicine developed by pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. It has not been officially approved for treating COVID-19, but recent clinical trials suggest that it may speed recovery from the novel coronavirus.

The medication was sent to the state health department by the federal government on Thursday, May 21 and shipped to WellSpan Good Samaritan on Friday, May 22. The federal Veterans Affairs department has also begun distributing the drug to its hospitals, but Pennsylvania was not among the initial group of states included in the distribution.

In early May, The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases prematurely halted its trial of the drug’s effectiveness after finding a small positive effect against COVID-19.

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Pa. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine emphasized that the drug remains experimental and that harmful side effects haven’t been ruled out.

“It is important to note that there is limited information on the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat people in the hospital with COVID-19,” she said. “However, it was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the recovery time in some people, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of the medication for treatment.”

Hospitals receiving shipments were selected based on the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized over a recent seven-day period, and the number of patients on ventilators.

Remdesivir is given to a patient through an IV once a day for up to 10 days, depending on how critically ill the patient is.

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WellSpan Good Samaritan spokeswoman Cindy Stauffer confirmed earlier this week that remdesevir is now being given to COVID-19 patients.

“We have a team of physicians and pharmacy experts determining what patients under our care are most appropriate for receiving the medication,” Stauffer said. “We are very grateful to be able to offer this treatment to the most appropriate patients.

“We also have a multidisciplinary team considering all possible therapeutic options for our patients, including remdesivir, which was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use for COVID-19 treatment. That team will continue to monitor the emerging evidence and best practices for COVID-19 treatment, when needed, in our hospitals.”

Read more: WellSpan receives national safety award, local patient thankful

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Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

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Full Disclosure: WellSpan Health is an advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.