Local patients receiving COVID-19 therapeutics

Antibody therapy, antiviral medication used at Brookings Health System

BROOKINGS – They are not a COVID-19 “cure,” Steve Timmerman, Brookings Health System director of pharmacy, admits. But a pair of therapeutics – remdesivir for inpatients, bamlanivimab for outpatients – are being used here in Brookings.

“We’ve been using remdesivir for a few months and bamlanvimab we’ve been using since mid-November,” he said. “The remdesivir is actually an antiviral which is designed to help kill the virus and limit the course of the infection.”

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2020, by product definition remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral administered intravenously. It can speed up recovery for inpatients with severe COVID-19. It’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older. Research on the drug began in 2009; it’s been tested against other coronaviruses, including those that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

Lilly USA, the company that developed bamlanivimab, described it as a “neutralizing antibody treatment for COVID-19. … The research so far shows that for certain people, taking this drug may help limit the amount of virus in the body. This may help their symptoms improve sooner – and they may be less likely to need to go to the hospital.”

However, Lilly cautioned that “bamlanivimab is a new drug that’s still being studied, so there’s a lot that scientists don’t know about the benefits and risks.”

“We really don’t know (the benefits) for the monoclonal antibody,” Timmerman explained. “Because we don’t follow up with those patients; they get it as outpatients and then they leave.

“There’ve been some anecdotal reports from people who know people who have received it. We actually had one person call back in, too, and say they felt better the next day. But it’s all anecdotal and it’s hard to track, too.

“Whether those people would have been better without it or if it actually helped or not, we just don’t have conclusive information.”

Bamlanivimbab is given via a one-hour infusion. “We give that to help prevent the virus from getting into the host cells and replicating farther,” Timmerman added.

Contact John Kubal at [email protected]


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