'Very encouraging:' Froedtert to receive 'investigational' COVID-19 drug; contact tracing continues

WAUWATOSA -- Froedtert Hospital will be receiving new medication showing early capability of killing the coronavirus. The medicine -- remdesivir -- has shown promising results in other cities of stopping the virus from multiplying, with enough for 10 people on its way to Froedtert Thursday, April 30.

Dr. Mary Beth Graham

"The preliminary data from the company is really very, very encouraging," said Dr. Mary Beth Graham with Froedtert.

Doctors at Froedtert are confident with preliminary results of the drug being developed by Gilead Sciences.

"This is an investigational drug. This is not FDA approved," Graham said. "It is the only drug that's out there right now that has direct antiviral activity against the virus."

The drug, previously used to treat patients with Ebola, is still awaiting regulatory approval as a coronavirus treatment. In the meantime, it is being distributed in small quantities to areas hardest-hit, including Milwaukee County.


"This drug hopefully will become available to more institutions, rather than those who are just able to get through the door by doing what I did and sending multiple, multiple emails," Graham said.

Meanwhile, state health department officials are providing more aid via contact tracing phone calls to those who have tested positive for the virus until a cure can be found.

Tracy DeSalvo

"They'll ask information about symptoms, where you've been, what your exposures might be, are you working? Maybe this person is an essential worker, so we want to know about their workplace and people they may have been exposed to," Traci DeSalvo, Wisconsin Department of Health Services epidemiologist, said.

"From what I've heard, using this drug to treat patients before they get to that point where they're septic or they're intubated in the ICU, has shown some promising results," said Graham.

Those with liver and kidney problems will likely not be able to use remdesivir at this time. FOX6 News is told it will be reserved for the sickest patients.