The anti-viral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat Covid-19 patients no matter how severe their illness as it has "no important effect" on survival chances, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Friday (Nov 20).
The WHO's Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel said its recommendation was backed by an evidence review that consisted of data from four worldwide randomised trials of over 7,000 Covid-19 hospitalised patients. The drug is approved in some countries for the treatment of COVID-19. Gilead Sciences announced preliminary results of a drug trial with that showed at least 50% of patients with coronavirus that treated with a five-day dosage of remdesivir improved and more than half were released from the hospital within two weeks.
After reviewing the evidence, the panel concluded that remdesivir has no meaningful effect on death rates or other important outcomes for patients.
In October, Remdesivir became the first coronavirus treatment approved in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The recommendation may raise further questions about whether the European Union will need the 500,000 courses of the antiviral worth 1 billion euros it ordered last month.
The panel said that their recommendation didn't not mean that there were no potential benefits for patients.
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. The European Commission granted the drug conditional authorization in July based on the USA -led clinical trial.
"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", the panel said.
On Thursday, FDA gave emergency use authorization to a combination of remdesivir and the rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib to treat suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19.
"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 current available data", the GDG said in its non-binding report. Trump repeatedly touted the drug early in the pandemic, though medical evidence was lacking to support his claims.