WHO Recommends Against Using Gilead Sciences' Remdesivir For Covid

gileadsciences oct23 20nov20

The World Health Organization or WHO has warned against using Gilead Sciences' Covid-19 drug remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients. According to the agency, there is currently no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes in these patients.

Remdesivir is an FDA-approved intravenous antiviral drug, sold under the brand name Veklury. It has been approved or authorized for the treatment of Covid-19 in about 50 countries across the world. The drug is supposed to work by stopping the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

As per a WHO Guideline Development Group panel, the evidence suggested that the drug has "no important effect on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and other patient-important outcomes."

The conditional recommendation by WHO against the use of remdesivir is part of a living guideline on clinical care for COVID-19, developed by the panel that consists of 28 clinical care experts, 4 patient-partners and one ethicist.

The group reviewed interim results of the WHO Solidarity Trial along with 3 other randomized controlled trials for the guidelines. In all, data from over 7000 patients across the 4 trials were considered.

The guidelines were developed in collaboration with the non-profit Magic Evidence Ecosystem Foundation that provided methodologic support.

The panel urged for more research, especially to provide higher certainty of evidence for specific groups of patients. They supported continued enrollment in trials evaluating remdesivir.

The WHO decision comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly and Co.'s rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, in combination with remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 patients.

The authorization is to treat suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 in hospitalized adults and pediatric patients two years of age or older requiring supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO.

Remdesivir received FDA approval on October 22 to treat patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. The drug is indicated for patients of age 12 years and older and weighing at least 40 kg.

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