Nov 19, 2020 - Health

WHO recommends against use of remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment

One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies on a table.

One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies on a table. Photo: Ulrich Perrey/AFP via Getty Images

A World Health Organization panel of experts on Thursday recommended against the use of Gilead Sciences' remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment.

Why it matters: The recommendation breaks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved the antiviral drug as a COVID-19 treatment in October.

What they're saying: The WHO panel "concluded that 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 experts said in a news release, per the New York Times.

  • The experts, who published their guidance in the the journal the BMJ, said they "concluded that the evidence did not prove that remdesivir has no benefit; rather, there is no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes."
  • "Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir, but consistent with the approach that should be taken with any new drug, the panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which is not established by the currently available data."
  • The panel reviewed data from four randomized trials.

Gilead Sciences said in a statement: “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," per the WSJ. Veklury is the trade name for remdesivir.

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