WHO Recommends Against Use of Gilead Covid-19 Drug Remdesivir -- Update
By Joseph Walker
The World Health Organization said Thursday it recommends
against the use of remdesivir, the antiviral drug for Covid-19 made
by Gilead Sciences Inc., after concluding that there isn't evidence
that the drug reduces deaths or recovery times.
The WHO said a panel of international experts that advise the
agency on treatments based its recommendation on data from four
international clinical trials comparing the effects of several drug
Remdesivir "has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other
important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical
ventilation or time to clinical improvement," the WHO said.
Gilead said remdesivir is recognized as the standard of care for
hospitalized Covid-19 patients by health organizations in the U.S.,
Japan, U.K. and Germany, based on multiple studies published in
"We are disappointed the WHO guidelines appear to ignore this
evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around
the world and doctors are relying on Veklury as the first and only
approved antiviral treatment for patients with Covid-19 in
approximately 50 countries," Gilead said.
Gilead's remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, was
authorized for U.S. emergency use in May, and received full
approval in October.
The U.S. approval was based primarily on data from a National
Institutes of Health study showing hospitalized patients receiving
remdesivir recovered five days faster than those receiving
placebos. Among patients receiving remdesivir, 11% died, compared
with 15% of placebo patients; the difference wasn't statistically
In October, the WHO said in a press release that a study it had
sponsored found that remdesivir had failed to show a benefit over
standard treatment alone. WHO officials said at the time that the
study results would be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Gilead said the study wasn't as rigorously designed as other
studies showing that remdesivir did provide a benefit.
The WHO said in its statement Thursday that further studies have
to be done to prove that remdesivir does benefit patients. Given
the drug's risk of side effects, high cost and labor required to
administer the intravenous therapy, it considered the
recommendation to be appropriate, the WHO said.
Write to Joseph Walker at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 19, 2020 19:39 ET (00:39 GMT)
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