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WHO: Remdesivir Does Not Substantially Affect COVID-19 Patient Mortality

By Eric Volkman – Oct 16, 2020 at 9:56AM

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The organization's large-scale study of four candidate treatments found that none did much to prevent deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Despite the hopes of an anxious world, and the pronouncements of high-profile individuals like President Donald Trump, Gilead Sciences' (GILD 0.13%) remdesivir is apparently not a game-changer for individuals afflicted with COVID-19.

That is the finding of the World Health Organization (WHO), which in its Solidarity clinical trial was studying the effects of four treatments, including Gilead's repurposed antiviral drug, on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Passages from the study were quoted by the Financial Times in an article published Thursday. That article stressed that the study has not been peer-reviewed yet.

A coronavirus colony.

Image source: Getty Images.

"These remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little effect on in-hospital mortality," the newspaper quoted the WHO's research as saying.

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug that was thought to be efficacious against COVID-19 early in the pandemic. Subsequent clinical research has indicated that it is not. Lopinavir is an antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV. Interferons are proteins that alert the body to the presence of viruses.

According to the Financial Times article, the study also revealed that taking those drugs had a negligible effect on how long the patients were hospitalized.

The WHO's trial involved a total of 11,266 patients, 2,750 of whom participated in the remdesivir arm. 

Remdesivir, which was granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year that was later expanded, has been prescribed since then to hospitalized patients with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. 

In response to the article, Gilead said: "The emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies validating the clinical benefit of [remdesivir]."

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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