HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Department of Health distributed the third shipment of the investigational antiviral medication, remdesivir, to treat patients in hospitals with COVID-19.

The medication was sent to the department by the federal government on Thursday, May 21.

Then 8,928 doses of medication were sent to 81 Pennsylvania hospitals on Friday, May 22, officials said.

“The department is working to give our hospitals every opportunity to treat patients with COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is important to note that there is limited information on the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat people in the hospital with COVID-19. However, it was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the recovery time in some people, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of the medication for treatment.”

The Department of Health first distributed 1,200 doses of the medication to 51 hospitals across Pennsylvania on Tuesday, May 12, and a second round of 7,938 doses were sent to 79 hospitals on Friday, May 15 and Monday, May 18.

Hospitals that received shipments were determined based on the number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital over a recent seven-day period, and the severity of the illness of those patients, based on whether they are on a ventilator.

The department says they will continue to work with federal partners to acquire more doses of this medication to serve more patients across PA. 

Remdesivir is given to a patient through an IV once per day for up to 10 days, depending on how critically ill the patient is.

According to the FDA, remdesivir may help decrease the amount of coronavirus in the body, which may help patients get better faster.