European Medicines Agency said that remdesivir is now the first medicine for Covid-19 to be recommended for authorisation in the EU.

A lab technician holds the coronavirus disease drug remdesivir at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo, Egypt, June 25, 2020.
A lab technician holds the coronavirus disease drug remdesivir at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo, Egypt, June 25, 2020. (Reuters)

The European healthcare regulator has recommended the conditional approval of Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral treatment, remdesivir, for use in Covid-19 patients, making it the first treatment to be on track to be green-lit in the continent.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday its human medicines committee (CHMP) recommended the drug's use in adults and adolescents from 12 years of age with pneumonia who require oxygen support. 

It said its assessment was based mainly based on data from a study sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The research, published in leading journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, in May, showed that injections of remdesivir sped up patient recovery compared with a placebo.

READ MORE: US grants emergency approval for Remdesivir for Covid-19 patients

Medicine in market

The price of the drug in the region is not yet known. In the United States, it could be priced up to $5,080 per course, while Indian generic drugmakers will sell the treatment between 5,000 rupees to 6,000 rupees ($66.13-$79.35).

The EMA endorsement, which comes just weeks after a speedy review means physicians can prescribe the Gilead drug, to be branded Veklury, in Europe once approved by the European Commission, which usually follows CHMP recommendations.

The EU's conditional marketing authorisation allows treatment to be sold for a year in the 27-nation trading bloc before all necessary data on its efficacy and side-effects are available. Gilead has to submit final data by December.

READ MORE: What does new data say about Gilead's experimental Covid-19 drug?

Doubling demand

Demand for the drug soared after it became a front-runner following promising trials. Gilead expects supply of remdesivir to exceed two million courses by year's end, double its previous target, and is planning to begin testing of an easier-to-use inhaled version of the drug, given intravenously as of now.

Remdesivir has already been approved for emergency use in severely ill patients in the United States, India and South Korea.

While receiving full approval in Japan, at least two major US studies also have shown that it can reduce the duration of hospital stays for Covid-19 patients.

Read more: Bangladesh's Beximco to begin producing Covid-19 drug Remdesivir - official

Source: TRTWorld and agencies