The World Health Organization has updated its ongoing guidelines for the drug Covid-19 to advise against the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients, no matter how severe their illness may be.
According to the update, published in the medical journal BMJ on Thursday, current evidence does not suggest that remdesivir affects the risk of death from Covid-19 or the need for mechanical ventilation, among other important results.
The new WHO update comes about a month after Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, announced that the US Food and Drug Administration had approved remdesivir to treat coronavirus infection. The drug became the first coronavirus treatment to receive FDA approval.
Remdesivir may have received FDA approval but not WHO recommendation due to new research – which initially showed some benefits against Covid-19, but as more data accumulates, it appears to be changing, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Insurance, who was not included in the WHO guidelines.
“We’ve seen people realize that the benefit of remdesivir is marginal at best – and the only benefit we were advertising was maybe it makes people better faster. But the evidence base for that is weak, no it is iron-clad and I think that is what we are seeing reflected in the WHO guidelines, just more evaluation of the data that is there and now, Adalja told CNN on Thursday.
“The fact that it was an antiviral that showed some benefits 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 think it will probably be replaced soon. “Adalja said, adding that the indication for medicines may change over time.
Some context:The WHO convened an international panel of 24 Covid-19 experts and four Covid-19 survivors to review the data and make recommendations. The recommendation against remdesivir was based on data from four randomized trials involving 7,333 hospitalized people with Covid-19.
“The panel concluded that most patients would not prefer intravenous treatment with remdesivir given the low safety evidence,” wrote researchers from various institutions around the world in the WHO updated guideline.
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