By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Remdesivir, the drug used to treat President Donald Trump for the coronavirus, received FDA approval on Thursday for use in hospitalized patients. The antiviral drug is the first and only approved treatment so far in the race for a COVID-19 cure.

“It’s another medication in our toolbox,” Dr. Rob Danoff said.

Danoff, a family medicine doctor at Jefferson Health Northeast who oversees his hospital’s COVID-19 testing site, says this approval means those sickest with the virus could see quicker treatment times.

“In some people, it may decrease the time of hospitalization from 15 days to about 10 days,” Danoff said.

Remdesivir must be given intravenously and is only prescribed to certain patients.

“This approval is for those age 12 and above and also for those requiring hospitalization who are needing oxygen to help them,” Danoff said.

Though U.S.-based studies show Remdesivir can reduce the amount of time COVID-19 patients spend in hospitals, Danoff says it plays no part in whether a patient may live or die.

“This is not an end all be all,” Danoff said. “In fact, it has not been shown to decrease the mortality, in other words, decrease the rate of death.”

Besides the steroid dexamethasone and monoclonal antibody therapy, Remdesivir was one of the drugs used to treat Trump after he contracted the virus earlier this month.

“If it’s going to help and not harm, it gives us another tool to use to help some very sick people,” Danoff said.

Gilead Sciences makes Remdesivir. Danoff says the company announced it has increased production and hopes to have the drug widely available by the end of the year.

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