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Gilead’s Veklury approved by FDA to treat pediatric patients with COVID-19

Veklury (remdesivir) is the first and only approved treatment for pediatric patients under age 12 years old with COVID-19.

Gilead Sciences has obtained the Food and Drug Administration’s permission for Veklur (remdesivir) for the treatment of pediatric patients who are older than 28 days, weighing at least 3 kg, and are either hospitalized with COVID-19 or have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and are considered high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.

This approval follows the recent approval for Veklury for the treatment of non-hospitalized adult and adolescent patients who are at high risk of progression to severe COVID-19. Until now, Veklury was only approved to treat certain adults and pediatric patients (aged 12 years old and older who weigh at least 40 kilograms, which is about 88 lbs.) with COVID-19, the company said.

[Read more: Pharmacy chains offering COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents] 

“This approval means that remdesivir can potentially provide meaningful clinical improvement, by reducing disease progression and helping children recover from COVID-19 more quickly,” said Amina Ahmed of Atrium Health-Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. “We need proven antiviral treatment options, like remdesivir, that can help treat some of the most vulnerable in our society: children.”

Under the expanded indication, a three-day Veklury treatment regimen is recommended to help prevent hospitalization in non-hospitalized COVID-19 pediatric patients who are at high risk for COVID-19 disease progression. For hospitalized pediatric patients who do not require invasive mechanical ventilation and/or ECMO, a five-day treatment course is recommended, the company said.

“The expanded indication for Veklury for the treatment of children is a testament to the safety, tolerability and efficacy profile of this therapy, which has remained the foundational antiviral for COVID-19 treatment,” said Merdad Parsey, Gilead's chief medical officer. “Effective and tolerable options for children require our best science and a dedicated focus. With the recent opening of our Gilead Pediatric Center of Excellence in Dublin, which is responsible for coordinating pediatric clinical trials for treatments for HIV, hepatitis B and COVID-19, we will continue our research to help address unmet treatment needs for children.”

[Read more: Gilead's Veklury becomes first treatment approved for COVID-19]

As COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children, some of whom do not currently have a vaccination option, there continues to be a need for safe and effective COVID-19 treatment options for this population, said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Today's approval of the first COVID-19 therapeutic for this population demonstrates the agency's commitment to that need.

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