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[Paper of the Week] Remdesivir for FIP in cats

Outcomes of treatment of cats with feline infectious peritonitis using parenterally administered remdesivir, with or without transition to orally administered GS-441524


FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is caused by a mutant coronavirus but not the same coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in people. This particular coronavirus likes to grow in the intestinal tract of cats and is passed from cat to cat via shared litterboxes. Most cats can develop natural immunity to the virus and they clear it in a couple of weeks. But coronaviruses have a tendency to mutate (as we have learned after seeing so many COVID variants) and so cats that are confined in large groups like catteries and shelters tend to pass this virus around to each other and are constantly getting reinfected. Eventually, the virus mutates so that it grows in other places of the body other than the intestines. This growth leads to an inflammatory response which eventually kills the host kitty. When I was in vet school, this diagnosis was terminal and it was always very tragic since these cats are often sweet young kittens.

But there is hope on the horizon. In fact, we knew that before the pandemic ever happened. This paper is a preliminary study showing that remdesivir actually works well for FIP, with 86% survival to 6 months! The research was done in Australia using injectable and oral versions of the drug. So why can't vets in the US use it? Well, COVID happened. The drug manufacturers shifted remdesivir and similar drugs into the pipeline for FDA approval for humans. Until remdesivir becomes formally approved by the FDA (instead of conditionally approved) then vets in the US can't prescribe it. Cat owners will still have to come by remdesivir and GS-441524 some other way for the time being, usually through shady internet resources.


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