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Report: Illinois receives 1st allotment of coronavirus treatment drug remdesivir, most goes to Cook County

Illinois received its first shipment of remdesivir, the only drug given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with COVID-19, according to a report from WTTW. More than 90% of the drugs will go to patients in Cook County hospitals.

Those same hospitals have seen 90% of the “total IL ICU COVID burden” over the past 14 days, according to a letter from Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike that was obtained by WTTW.

The letter was addressed to Illinois hospital chief medical officers. Ezike wrote that remdesivir “will be distributed to the hospitals that have seen the most critically ill COVID-19 patients and to safety net hospitals and hospitals treating large communities of color.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent the shipment to state health departments, based on which states have been hardest hit by the virus. IDPH received 140 cases of remdesivir, and each case has enough vials to treat approximately five patients.

HHS recommended cases not be split up and shipped separately with loose vials. At this time, “it is impossible,” Ezike’s letter stated, for every hospital in Illinois to receive remdesivir.

Hospitals in Cook County will receive 127 of the 140 cases. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago will receive 34 cases, the most of any Illinois hospital. Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn will receive 25 cases. Ten cases each will go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and University of Chicago Medical Center, both in Chicago.

Six other Cook County hospitals will receive eight cases each: Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Northshore Glenbrook Hospital, AMITA Resurrection Medical Center Chicago, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital Cook County, Mount Sinai Hospital and Saint Anthony Hospital.

Those hospitals are all in the Northeast region of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.

Outside of Cook County, hospitals in Rockford (Swedish American Hospital), Peoria, Springfield and O’Fallon received the remaining 13 cases of remdesivir.

According to Ezike’s letter, determinations on which hospitals will receive the drug were based on hospitalization and ICU rate.

“Future shipments of Remdesivir are expected to be available and future allocation will consider hospitals that received initial allocations,” Ezike wrote.

As of Sunday, Illinois had 4,293 total coronavirus patients in the hospital, with 1,232 in the ICU and 709 on ventilators.

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola in 2015. The drug is injected into patients through an IV. Gilead, which is headquartered in California, donated 607,000 vials to the federal government, enough to treat approximately 78,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

A previous shipment had gone to hospitals hand-selected by the federal government. The White House has changed course, however, following questions about how it decided which hospitals would receive the drugs.

Now, the federal government has left it up to the states to decide how to distribute the drugs.

“State and local health departments have the greatest insight into community-level needs in the COVID-19 response, including appropriate distribution of a treatment in limited supply,” a release from HHS said.

The first round of shipments went to Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.

The second round includes Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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