Dr. Ngozi Ezike

Illinois Receives First Shipment of Remdesivir, With Most Vials Going to Cook County

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Illinois officials say the state has received 140 cases of remdesivir, a drug that has been given emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of coronavirus patients.

According to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state received 140 cases of the drug on Saturday. The cases had enough vials to treat approximately 700 patients, with an average of five vials per case.

Ezike confirmed earlier reports that approximately 90 percent of the supply of the medication went to hospitals in Cook County.

“We tried to do a rank order of hospitals who had participated in COVID-19 care that had the largest number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” she said. “We also had to try to make sure that it was distributed throughout the state.”

The medication is the only drug to receive emergency authorization from the FDA to help treat patients with coronavirus.

May 11 briefing: Dr. Ngozi Ezike reveals how Illinois’ first shipment of a drug called remdesivir, which is being used to help treat hospitalized coronavirus patients, will be distributed. The Food and Drug Administration recently cleared Gilead Science’s intravenous drug for hospitalized patients with “severe disease,” such as those experiencing breathing problems requiring supplemental oxygen or ventilators.

Ezike said that a variety of criteria were used to determine which hospitals received the first batch of the medication.

“We wanted to make sure that we have included some safety nets, and we also wanted to include some hospitals that specialize in care for communities of color,” she said. “So using all of those (criteria), and knowing that there are over 200 hospitals (statewide) and we only had 140 cases, and that we weren’t going to start breaking up individual vials for people, we had quite a few limitations and came up with really the most equitably and data driven strategy that we could.”

As of Monday, 1,248 coronavirus patients are in ICU beds in Illinois, and 730 ventilators are in use by COVID-19 patients.

Ezike says that the state is hoping to receive more of the drug, which is still undergoing further testing to determine its efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients.

“We’re hoping to get more, and we will definitely take into account people who received it previously when we receive new shipments,” she said.

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