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Doctors using older Ebola medication on COVID-19 patients say results are promising

This is only one small preliminary snapshot from one of the clinical trial sites. Tulane Medical Center is among 160 hospitals around the world in the study.

NEW ORLEANS — A drug that didn’t work so well for the Ebola virus outbreak, may be showing promise in COVID-19 patients. Doctors said it’s very early information that was leaked, and there’s still more testing that needs to be done

But that promising drug is being tested on patients in the New Orleans area.

It is causing headlines in the medical and business worlds: News that an older drug used during the Ebola outbreak may be helping patients sick with this SARS-2 coronavirus. 

'STAT Reports' writes that it got the news from a recorded video chat that a doctor in Chicago had with her colleagues, talking about a clinical trial on the IV antiviral medication remdesivir.

The drug works by inhibiting the virus from making copies of itself. Her comments were about patients on remdesivir having rapid recoveries with fever and respiratory problems, and she said most patients were getting out of the hospital in less than a week. That caused stock prices of its makers, Gilead Sciences, to jump eight percent. 

This is only one small preliminary snapshot from one of the clinical trial sites. There are about 160 hospitals around the world in the study. Tulane Medical Center is one of them.

"We’re actively enrolling subjects with moderate and with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection," said Dr. Dahlene Fusco, assistant professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fusco is treating patients with remdesivir as part of these studies, but she said she can not release any of the medical outcomes that they are seeing. 

"So to qualify for these studies, you have to be an inpatient. It's an IV drug, and one of the criteria is that someone must be admitted to the hospital." 

Dr. Fusco does want people to know about this and other research going on before a potential trip to the hospital. 

"The more our public knows that clinical trials are available, the more they can go in knowledgeable about them and ask whether they can be considered for them," she said.

She said while working on the front lines has been overwhelming for the entire staff, it is getting better. 

She left us with this thought.

"I think we're doing a great job, but it’s — you know — it’s not time yet to stop our social distancing. Everyone’s tired of it. Everyone’s starting to go batty, but we’re doing a great job and keep up the good work," added Dr. Fusco. 

Other hospitals in the area, UMC, the VA, and Ochsner will also have studies with this same drug.

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