Remdesivir

(Say ‘rem-DE-si-vir’).

Remdesivir is used to treat people who have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection. Remdesivir is also called Veklury.

What is remdesivir?

Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine that can reduce the amount of virus that causes COVID-19. It is used to treat people with COVID-19 infection who meet certain criteria for its use. It is only useful when given within 7 days of the start of your COVID-19 illness so your doctors will decide whether you need this. It may help you stay out of hospital and get better sooner.  

How is remdesivir given?

Remdesivir is given ONCE a day, usually for 3 days. It is given by a slow injection into your vein (called an intravenous infusion), over 30–120 minutes. Your doctor will decide what dose is right for you and how many doses you should receive.

Tell your doctor

Before you are given remdesivir, tell your doctor if you:

  • have liver or kidney problems
  • have any other conditions including diabetes, heart problems, high or low blood pressure, blood disorders, epilepsy or seizures (fits)
  • have had previous allergic reactions to any medicine including over-the-counter and complementary medicines, eg, vitamins, minerals, herbal or naturopathic medicines that you are taking or have recently taken
  • think you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy.

What are the side effects of remdesivir?

As remdesivir is a new medicine, it is possible that we do not know all of the side effects yet. However, many people in clinical trials, as well as those abroad and in Aotearoa New Zealand, have been treated with remdesivir for COVID-19.

Common side effects

These are usually mild and go away with time or when the medicine is stopped. Tell your doctor if these side effects cause you problems or don’t go away:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • runny poo (diarrhoea)
  • headache
  • pain, soreness or swelling at the injection site..

Rare, serious side effects

Contact your healthcare team or Healthline on 0800 611 116 immediately if you notice these side effects and tell them you are
taking remdesivir:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as a skin rash, puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue.
  • Signs of liver problems such as yellow eyes or skin, dark pee, or pain or discomfort in the upper stomach area.

Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

Learn more

The following link has more information on remdesivir. 

References

  1. Remdesivir British National Formulary, UK, 2021 (subscription only).
  2. Use of remdesivir in hospitalised patients with Covid-19 NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group Inc, Australia, 2021
  3. Clinical management of COVID-19 in hospitalised adults (including in pregnancy) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2022
  4. Remdesivir factsheet Gilead Sciences New Zealand, 2021
  5. Medicines to treat COVID-19 – questions and answers Medsafe, NZ, 2021
  6. Medicines and COVID-19 Christchurch Medicines Information Service, NZ, 2021
  7. Decision to secure supply of remdesivir for the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 Pharmac, NZ, 2021
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, Pharmacist Last reviewed: 13 Nov 2021