The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Friday, November 20 not to administer remdesivir to hospitalized Covid-19 patients. This antiviral drug does not prevent death or severe forms of the disease, she believes.
“The antiviral drug remdesivir is not recommended for patients admitted to hospital for Covid-19, regardless of the severity of their disease, as there is currently no evidence that it improves the survival or that it avoids being placed under artificial ventilation ‘WHO said in a statement. It pronounced after the opinion of its panel of experts, whose conclusions are published in the medical journal BMJ.
These experts point out “The possibility of significant side effects” remdesivir, as well as “Its relatively high cost and its logistical implications”, since“It must be administered intravenously”. According to them, it cannot be said at this stage that remdesivir has no benefit. But the fact that its effectiveness has not been proven, combined with its drawbacks (possible side effects and cost) leads them not to recommend it.
However, they call for continued clinical trials to see if the drug could not benefit certain categories of patients in particular. “There may be some signals that people who are less sick or have earlier stages of the disease might be an area to explore.”, said one of the heads of the expert panel, Bram Rochwerg, at a press conference.
WHO experts based their conclusions on the analysis of four international clinical trials comparing the effectiveness of different treatments and involving more than 7,000 patients hospitalized for Covid-19.
Interest deemed “low” in France
Initially developed against Ebola hemorrhagic fever, remdesivir is sold by the Gilead laboratory under the trade name of Veklury. On July 3, it became the first drug against Covid-19 to receive conditional European marketing authorization. However, it arouses more enthusiasm in North America than in Europe.
In France, the Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) considered that its interest was ” low “. In addition, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on October 2 that it would investigate reports that “Acute kidney problems” could be related to taking remdesivir.
A study made public in mid-October and carried out in more than thirty countries with the support of the WHO already concluded that remdesivir had not shown any benefit in terms of reduction of mortality.
According to another study published at the end of May in the American journal New England Journal of Medicine, on the other hand, it slightly reduces the recovery time of hospitalized Covid-19 patients (from fifteen to eleven days on average).
“We regret that the WHO recommendations do not take these data into account, even though the number of new cases increases considerably worldwide and that doctors are using Veklury, the first and only treatment authorized against Covid-19 in more than 50 countries in the world »Gilead responded in a statement.
The laboratory claims that its drug is recognized “By many credible national organizations, such as the US National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases of America, Japan, UK and Germany“. At the end of October, Gilead announced that remdesivir had already grossed him nearly $ 900 million in the third quarter.
For now, corticosteroids (including dexamethasone) are the only treatment that has reduced mortality from Covid-19, although this is only true for one category of patients (severe cases that require administration of oxygen). WHO has recommended their “Routine use in patients with severe or critical disease”.
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