WHO advises against Gilead's remdesivir for all hospitalised COVID-19 patients

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 20, 2020

The World Health Organization recommended against using Gilead Sciences Inc.'s remdesivir to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients less than a month after USA regulators granted the drug a speedy approval.

Remdesivir may have received FDA approval but not WHO's recommendation because of emerging research, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who was not involved in the WHO guidance.

However, the antiviral drug was also used to treat Donald Trump when he had contracted the virus, and previous studies had suggested that it reduces the time to recovery. The representative of the organization in Russia Melita Vuinovich said that WHO has no questions about Russian data on mortality from infection and the transparency of the corresponding statistics.

The FDA even went as far as granting it emergency authorization to use for severe cases of COVID-19.

The drug manufacturer of the medicine called Veklury, also known as its generic medical name Remdesivir, disagrees with the decision of World Health Organization to recommend against the medicine. On October 14, the department approved two more drugs for coronavirus - imported and domestic "Remdesivir".

Scratching one of the few treatments that had shown some initial promise in severe patients, a WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) of worldwide experts said there was "no evidence based on now available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes". Data reviewed by the panel included results from this trial, as well as 3 other randomized controlled trials. The global panel concludes that most patients do not prefer its administration due to its low efficacy evidence.

"Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains", the guideline says.

It is one of the two medicines now authorised to treat the deadly virus across the world, but a large-scale Solidarity Trial led by WHO found that it had little or no effect on 28-day mortality or duration of hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients. "Remdesivir has been recommended in several COVID-19 treatment guidelines so this new analysis will necessitate a rethink about the place of remdesivir in COVID-19".

But based on the latest figures, costs and delivery methods, it advised "against administering remdesivir in addition to usual care for the treatment of patients hospitalised with Covid-19, regardless of disease severity".

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