Remdesivir the antiviral drug authorised for the treatment of coronavirus fails to prevent deaths among patients or reduce the length of hospital stay, a large study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found. The study conducted on over 11,300 adults in 30 countries is yet to be peer-reviewed.
The drug was given emergency authorisation in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 1 following trials that found that remdesivir modestly reduced the recovery time in severely ill patients. However, that study also did not find that remdesivir reduced chances of death.
The WHO's study, 'Solidarity Therapeutics Trial', found that "remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients".
The WHO said that the Solidarity trial looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalised patients.
The patients were given the drugs either singly or in combination of remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, interferon or interferon plus lopinavir. The study found that no drug or combination reduced mortality, chances for need of medical ventilation or the time spent in the hospital as compared with patients without the drug treatment.
Gilead contested the findings of the WHO study. "The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir. We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design," said Gilead.
Remdesivir was approved for use for treatment of coronavirus patients by the Centre. A host of companies like Zydus Cadila, Hetero Labs, Cipla, Mylan NV and Jubilant Life Sciences offer their brand of remdesivir. The drug is priced at Rs 2,800 for a 100 mg lyophilized injection by Zydus while, Cipla prices Cipremi, its generic version of remdesivir, at Rs 4,000 per 100 mg vial, Hetero Healthcare's Covifor is priced Rs 5,400. Mylan's remdesivir generic is priced at Rs 4,800 per vial. Jubilant Generics launched its brand JUBI-R in the Indian market last week at a price of Rs 4,700 per vial of 100 mg.