WHO advises against Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients
- US President Donald Trump was given remdesivir when he had tested positive for COVID-19, last month
- A study published in May showed remdesivir reduced the length of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients
- The drug has "no important effect" on survival chances, WHO said on Friday
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that the anti-viral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat COVID-19, even in severe cases, AFP reported. This is because the drug has "no important effect" on survival chances.
Remdesivir, originally developed to treat Ebola, showed initial promise in severe coronavirus patients. However, a WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) of international experts has now said there was "no evidence-based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes".
Friday's WHO recommendation was based on four international randomised trials among more than 7,000 patients hospitalised with the virus.
Publishing updated treatment guidance in the BMJ medical journal, the panel acknowledged that their recommendation does not mean that remdesivir has no benefit for patients.
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".
The United States, the European Union and several other countries have granted temporary approval for the use of remdesivir. It was after initial research showed it may shorten recovery time in some coronavirus patients.
US President Donald Trump was also administered the drug when he contracted the novel coronavirus, last month.
Remdesivir's manufacturer Gilead said last month that the drug had boosted 2020 third-quarter sales by almost $900 million.
In a study published in May, the drug had shown to reduce the length of hospital stays for COVID-19 sufferers from 15 to 11 days on average.
A subsequent WHO pre-print however found the drug "appeared to have little or no effect" on mortality or length of hospitalisation among more than 11,000 hospitalised patients across 30 countries.