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Remdesivir, COVID-19 Treatment Drug, Receives FDA Approval

Remdesivir, which has been used to successfully treat patients with COVID-19, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which allows Medicare to cover the drug.

Published October 26, 2020

Follow our Medicare Coronavirus News page for related information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on Medicare beneficiaries.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, was granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration on October 22. 

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The drug was given emergency use authorization by the FDA in May, which allowed hospitals and doctors to administer the drug to COVID-19 patients despite not being FDA approved. Remdesivir is now the only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of COVID-19, which had killed more than one million people around the world including some 220,000 Americans before Oct. 22. 

The FDA approval comes with the caveat that patients must be at least 12 years of age, weigh at least 88 pounds and require hospitalization for COVID-19. 

The intravenous drug is developed by drug maker Gilead and goes by the brand name Veklury.

Numerous studies have shown remdesivir to shorten the recovery time of some COVID-19 patients, though the World Health Organization concluded that the drug has little to no effect on a patient’s survival and is not a cure for the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump was given remdesivir as part of his COVID-19 treatment in early October. 

Does Medicare cover remdesivir?

Remdesivir can only be administered by a doctor to a hospital inpatient. As such, it is covered by Medicare Part A and included in the cost of the hospital stay. Medicare Part A beneficiaries are responsible for a hospital deductible of $1,408 per benefit period in 2020. 

Medicare’s hospital reimbursement for remdesivir is $2,340 for a five-day course, compared to reimbursement of $3,120 for private insurance for a five-day course. Many health insurance companies waived patient cost-sharing requirements for the drug. 

About Remdesivir 

Remdesivir was found in clinical trials to reduce the length of hospital stays from 15 days for patients who received a placebo to 10 days for those who were given remdesivir, and symptoms lingered longer in the patients who did not receive the drug. 

Possible side effects of remdesivir include increased levels of liver enzymes, allergic reactions, low blood oxygen level, fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling, rash, nausea, sweating and shivering.

Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

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