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.
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Sounds like 'Rem-des-eh-veer'
Key points about remdesivir
- Remdesivir is used to treat people who have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection.
- Remdesivir is also called Veklury.
- Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
From September 2022, more people can get antiviral medicines to treat COVID infection. If you have symptoms that started within the last 7 days, AND have tested positive for COVID-19 or are a household contact of a person with COVID -19 AND at are at high risk of severe infection, you may be eligible for treatment with remdesivir. Read more about who should have antivirals for COVID-19 infection.
If you're not sure if you qualify for antivirals, talk to your GP or pharmacist about COVID-19 antiviral medicines as soon as possible. They will advise on whether or not remdesivir is suitable for you.
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.
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.
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)
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
- 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(external link)
The following links have more information on remdesivir.
Remdesivir factsheet [PDF, 129 KB] Healthify, NZ, 2022
English [PDF, 129 KB]
Te reo Māori [PDF, 147 KB]
Samoan [PDF, 133 KB]
Tongan [PDF, 234 KB]
Chinese (simplified) [PDF, 335 KB]
Cook Islands Māori [PDF, 1.4 MB]
- Remdesivir(external link)(external link) British National Formulary, UK, 2021 (subscription only).
- Use of remdesivir in hospitalised patients with Covid-19(external link)(external link) NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group Inc, Australia, 2021
- Clinical management of COVID-19 in hospitalised adults (including in pregnancy)(external link)(external link) Ministry of Health, NZ, 2022
- Remdesivir factsheet(external link)(external link) Gilead Sciences New Zealand, 2021
- Medicines to treat COVID-19 – questions and answers(external link)(external link) Medsafe, NZ, 2021
- Medicines and COVID-19(external link)(external link) Christchurch Medicines Information Service, NZ, 2021
- Decision to secure supply of remdesivir for the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19(external link)(external link) Pharmac, NZ, 2021
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.
Reviewed by: Maya Patel, Pharmacist
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