Coronavirus Pandemic: Bay Area doctors receive COVID-19 drug, must decide who gets it

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area hospitals have received a few doses of the COVID-19 fighting drug Remdesivir to help with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The problem is physicians now must decide which patients to give it to.

The Foster City company, Gilead, donated the medicine to the country. The federal government then distributed the doses to seven states, including California. Officials did not say how they selected the states.

A spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Health Department, Carl Fisher, said the county received one course of the drug, enough for one patient. He says they sent it to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

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A spokesperson at John Muir, Ben Drew, said they were honored to receive it, but said it is a challenge to decide the recipient. He said physicians are discussing it, and that they have ethics and clinical resource policies in place to help guide their decision making in cases like this where they have limited resources.

San Francisco County officials said they were looking into our questions about how they decide who gets the drug, but were not able to answer them at this time.

We did not hear back from Alameda, San Mateo or Santa Clara counties.

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Here is a breakdown of what the counties received as of Friday, May 15. The number represents the number of doses. Officials say each patient needs a few doses.

Alameda 32
Contra Costa 8
Lake 0
Marin 0
Mendocino 0
Napa 0
San Francisco 28
San Mateo 13
Santa Clara 28

Santa Cruz 0
Solano 0
Sonoma 0

The state of California says they could consider holding a lottery to decide which patients will get it.

Remdesivir isn't known to save lives, but officials say it has been known to shave off four days of a patient's hospital stay.

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