The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against the use of Gilead Sciences Inc’s (NASDAQ:GILD) to treat patients with COVID-19.
The United Nations agency said hospitals should not employ it, regardless of how severely ill patients are, because there is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation.
“Remdesivir has received worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment for severe covid-19 and is increasingly used to treat patients in hospital,” the WHO said.
“But its role in clinical practice has remained uncertain.”
The recommendation is based on a new evidence review comparing the effects of several drug treatments, which includes data from four international randomised trials involving over 7,000 patients hospitalised for COVID-19.
The WHO noted that the evidence did not prove that remdesivir has no benefit but rather, there is no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve important patient outcomes.
The panel supports continued enrolment into trials evaluating remdesivir, especially to provide higher certainty of evidence for specific groups of patients.
Developer Gilead started a new study in July to assess an inhaled formulation on the treatment in healthy volunteers.
Last month, the WHO said that its Solidarity study proved that the candidate had little to no effect in helping patients’ chances of survival, although other studies found it to shorten the recovery time.
The trial, which also involved hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens, spanned across 30 countries and involved 11,266 adult participants.
The investigational drug has been priced at US$390 per vial or US$3,120 for a full treatment course.
Commercialised under the name Veklury, which was the first candidate to receive full approval in the US and the EU while it is also available as a temporary treatment in the UK and Japan.
It was part of the treatment received by Donald Trump when he was hospitalised with COVID-19 symptoms, while in October the EU Commission struck a deal with Gilead to secure 500,000 doses.