Thursday, September 23

WHO advises against use of remdesivir to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against the use of remdesivir as a treatment for hospitalized patients for coronavirus.

In a guide prepared by international experts and published in the magazine The British Medical Journal, the health agency established that the drug “does not have no significant effect on mortality or other major complications for the patient ”.

The WHO added that it does not reduce “the need to require mechanical ventilation or the time to clinical improvement.”

Remdesivir is an antiviral which has been experimented with since the beginning of the pandemic as a possible treatment for acute cases of covid-19.

When US President Donald Trump became infected with the coronavirus in October, his doctors revealed that they were treating him with various medications, including remdesivir.

Donald Trump.
Trump’s doctors said they treated him with remdesivir and other treatments. (Photo: Getty Images)

In fact, it was approved last month by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

An “appropriate” recommendation

The WHO position is based on comparing the effects of various medical treatments against COVID-19, including data from four international trials of around 7,000 hospitalized patients.

The medical panel acknowledges that the evidence does not indicate that remdesivir is not beneficial, but rather that there is insufficient evidence that it substantially improves patient outlook.

Three clinical bottles with the WHO logo on the bottom.
The WHO instead recommended the use of dexamethasone. (Photo: Getty Images)

“But given the potential for significant harm, as well as the relatively high cost and resources involved associated with remdesivir (given intravenously), it is an appropriate recommendation,” the guideline says.

Gilead Sciences, the US manufacturer of remdesivir, set its price at $ 2,340 per treatment for governments and $ 3,120 for private insurers.

The WHO, instead, recommends the use of “Well known, cheap and widely available dexametasona corticoide“.

This body motivates the continued trials of remdesivir, especially to find greater certainty about its use in specific groups of patients.

Approved by USA

WHO’s position differs from that of the United States.

By the end of october, The FDA approved the use of remdesivir as a treatment for hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Gilead California logo.
The American biotech company Gilead makes remdesivir. (Photo: Getty Images)

The go-ahead from the regulatory body was based, among others, on a clinical trial conducted by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in April.

This involved 1,063 patients. Some received placebo and others remdesivir.

The study concluded that the drug reduced recovery time from 15 to 11 days.

The impact on mortality, however, was not so clear. The mortality rate for remdesivir-treated patients was 8%. In those who received the placebo, 11.6%.

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