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Remdesivir distribution needs more transparency: JAMA Viewpoint

Infectious disease expert calls for fair, understandable allocation of limited supply of drug

The distribution of remdesivir, an intravenous drug that has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized patients with COVID-19, needs a more transparent hospital allocation process by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), says Northwestern Medicine infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Ison in a May 14 opinion piece published in JAMA.

“There are far more patients that may benefit from remdesivir than there are doses to go around.” said Ison, professor of infectious diseases and organ transplantation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the medical director of Northwestern’s Transplant & Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases Service. “Patients deserve to understand how the limited supply is being distributed by the U.S. and state governments."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization on May 1 to treat COVID-19 patients with remdesivir, but the authorization left out key details about how the drug will become available, and distribution remains limited, Ison and two co-authors write in JAMA Viewpoint.

“Even with the announcement by (DHS) confirming that two distributions—one allocation of 35,360 doses to Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia and a second allocation of 10,800 doses to Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey—had been made, there remains no information on how these allocations were decided. Additionally, it is unclear how distributions were made to specific hospitals within those states,” the JAMA Viewpoint states.

Ison is available for interviews with the media about the JAMA Viewpoint. Media should contact Kristin Samuelson at ksamuelson@northwestern.edu to schedule an interview. 

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