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by Dr Don Chan, Bayside Animal Hospital, Wolli Creek, NSW
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cats is a fatal disease that led to an extensive black market in medication as owners tried to save their pets. FIP is caused by a coronavirus and a remdesivir injection became available about three years ago. A year after that the oral version—GS-441524—became available. These two treatments have provided owners with a legal and regulated treatment option.
What’s good about it
Both the injectable remdesivir and the tablet form, GS-441524, are efficacious with a high success rate. Being a simple tablet, GS-441524 is easy to administer, it’s effective and less stressful for the cat and the owner.
Treatment for FIP lasts around 12 weeks; it’s not a simple or quick process. Usually, the injection is given for between three days and two weeks, then the cat is switched over to the oral tablet. Giving a cat a needle every day for weeks is potentially painful and challenging. Being able to administer medication in tablet form makes it much simpler.
The tablet version is also slightly cheaper than the injection. It’s better for the vet as you don’t have to dispose of needles daily or store the medication in a fridge.
What’s not so good
It’s still a very expensive treatment, charged by the tablet. The other issue is that some cats simply won’t take a tablet. In those cases, there’s no choice but to continue with the injections.