Don't use Gilead's remdesivir in hospitalised Covid patients: WHO
LONDON: Gilead's remdesivir should not be used for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence the drug improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation, a World Health Organization panel said on Friday.
"The ... panel found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients," the guideline said.
"Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir ... the panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which is not established by the currently available data," it added.
The advice is another setback for the drug, which grabbed worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment for COVID-19 in the summer after early trials showed some promise. The antiviral, known by the brand name Veklury, is one of only two medicines currently authorised to treat COVID-19 patients across the world. But a large WHO-led trial known as the Solidarity Trial showed last month that it had little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.
The medication was one of the drugs used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump's Coronavirus infection, and had been shown in previous studies to have cut time to recovery. It is authorised or approved for use as a COVID-19 treatment in more than 50 countries.
Gilead has questioned the Solidarity Trial's results and said in a statement on Friday it was "disappointed" at the new WHO guideline.
"Veklury is recognised as a standard of care for the treatment of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in guidelines from numerous credible national organisations," it said.
"The WHO guidelines appear to ignore this evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around the world and doctors are relying on Veklury as the first and only approved antiviral treatment for patients with COVID-19." The WHO advice raises questions about whether the European Union will need the 500,000 courses of the antiviral, worth 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), it ordered last month.