With remdesivir scarcities, doctors advised to 'randomly allocate' drug to patients

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After a federal shipment of anti-viral drug remdesivir was distributed this week, doctors with an insufficient supply have realized tough decisions need to be made when treating coronavirus patients in need of the medication.

In California, for instance, the state department of public health received the shipment of medicine enough to treat up to 200 patients. As of Thursday, the state reported 3,261 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, with more than 1,000 in critical care.

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CDPH released a remdesivir distribution list on Tuesday. Los Angeles County, for example, will receive enough remdesivir to treat approximately 75 patients. County officials on Thursday announced 1,742 patients are currently hospitalized.

The CDPH said additional allotments of medication will be sent on a “regular cadence going forward,” but doctors are left making tough decisions in the meantime.

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CDPH released guidelines Monday that said in the event of scarce medication, “random allocation” of treatment among eligible patients can be considered. The state department also noted “it is reasonable to give some priority to essential workers, who may have been repeatedly exposed to the virus or unable to physically distance at work” in order to protect the workforce and maintain the ability to respond to the pandemic.

It should be noted that other states struggle with medication scarcity as well, but California was singled out as an example.