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Froedtert to participate in study to treat COVID-19 with new drug remdesivir

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We're learning more about the experimental drug being used to help treat severe COVID-19 patients.

Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) have enrolled in a study for the potential breakthrough drug.

It's called remdesivir. 

"It is an antiviral medication that's been around for a number of years, and was used initially for trials with Ebola," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham, medical director of Infection Prevention & Control at Froedtert Hospital and associate chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at MCW.

According to the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, patients with COVID-19 who received remdesivir recovered faster.

It will be given to ten patients at Froedtert under certain conditions. They have to be intubated and have renal and liver function.

"Very strict parameters that we have to follow on this trial from the drug company," said Dr. Graham, principal investigator on the study.

So how exactly does the drug work? It affects how cells grow.

"It essentially goes in and messes up the way the virus can make more of itself."

Remdesivir has yet to be approved by the FDA, but doctors say the data is positive.

"It's very, very, very encouraging," said Dr. Graham.

In the meantime, researchers continue to look into other ways to treat the virus, like from plasma donations.

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