Drug manufacturer, CIPLA South Africa, has announced that Remdesivir, a medicine that could make a difference in the management of severe COVID-19, is now available in the country.

Remdesivir has also been given the green light by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Through an agreement with Gilead Sciences Incorporated, CIPLA was granted a licence to manufacture and distribute the antiviral medicine, in 127 countries, including South Africa.

The drug was first issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration in May, after a study showed that it shortened recovery time in COVID-19 patients.

Gilead’s COVID-19 antiviral Remdesivir gets conditional EU clearance in early July

The European Commission said in early July it had given conditional approval for the use of antiviral Remdesivir in severe COVID-19 patients following an accelerated review process, making it the region’s first authorised therapy to treat the virus.

The move came just a week after the European Medicines Agency gave its go-ahead for the drug, produced by Gilead Sciences to be used in adults and adolescents from 12 years of age who are also suffering from pneumonia and require oxygen support.

It also came just days after the company allocated nearly all of its supply of Remdesivir to the United States over the next three months, stirring concerns about availability elsewhere.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure efficient treatments or vaccine against the coronavirus,” said Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, in a statement.

The Commission said it was in negotiations with Gilead to obtain doses of Remdesivir for the 27 European Union countries.

Remdesivir is in high demand after the intravenously-administered medicine helped to shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial.

It is believed to be most effective in treating COVID-19 patients earlier in the course of disease than other therapies like the steroid Dexamethasone.