Washington D.C.: The World Health Organization recommended against using Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients less than a month after U.S. regulators granted the drug a speedy approval.
“There is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation,” a panel of WHO-convened experts developing Covid-19 treatment guidelines said in The BMJ medical journal.
The recommendation is a blow to Gilead’s drug, which was one of the first thought to offer a meaningful benefit in treatment of coronavirus patients after a study showed it reduced their recovery time. The antiviral has been used widely to treat Covid and was among the drugs President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the disease in early October.
The experts made the recommendation after the results of a global trial sponsored by the WHO, called Solidarity, found last month that remdesivir didn’t reduce deaths. They also reviewed data from three other trials and said the drug “has no meaningful effect” on the time it took patients to clinically improve.
The Solidarity results were published Oct. 15. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug a week later, basing its decision on a trial run by the National Institutes of Health that showed remdesivir reduced hospitalized patients’ recovery time by five days.
Gilead has questioned the results of WHO’s trial and said the agency still has not released key data to allow the company or others to evaluate the reliability of the interim results.