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

Darnell Taylor
November 20, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against the use of Gilead Sciences Inc's (NASDAQ:GILD) to treat patients with COVID-19.

Scratching one of the few treatments that had shown some initial promise in severe patients, a WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) of global experts said there was "no evidence based on now available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes".

The latest development is another setback for the drug that had grabbed headlines in the initial months of the pandemic as the potential treatment to coronavirus.

"The fact that it was an antiviral that showed some benefit in certain trials - but not in all trials - was enough to push people to want to use it because we had no tools, but I do think it probably will be supplanted shortly", Adalja said, adding that the indication for drugs can change over time.

The evidence suggested no important effect on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and other patient-important outcomes.

The Solidarity results were published October 15.

First doses of China's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Brazil
The Phase 3 trials of the vaccine are underway and early efficacy readings could come out in the upcoming weeks. They show that older adults aged 56-69 and over 70 had a similar immune response to younger adults aged 18-55.

Studies initially showed some benefit against Covid-19, but as more data accumulate, that appears to be changing.

Despite the discordance with the World Health Organization, the FDA said in its review of remdesivir that "there were no issues identified that would benefit from discussion" by a panel of outside advisers.

The recommendation against remdesivir was based on data from four randomized trials including 7,333 people hospitalized with Covid-19. Additionally, the US FDA notably puts a massive trust in Remdesivir after granting a broad emergency authorization for its use. The European Commission granted the drug conditional authorization in July based on the US -led clinical trial.

Additionally, the World Health Organization recently publicized its findings and research regarding the Remdesivir drug in the British Medical Trade Journal, also known as The BMJ. Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese expert on infectious disease, said at a conference in Zhuhai that remdesivir isn't "entirely useless", citing shortened hospital stays among mild patients in the U.S.

"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 now available data", it added.

It also said that evidence review found that the drug is costly and complex to administer and has very little efficacy.

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