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Gilead’s remdesivir not included in WHO’s COVID-19 drug scheme

Remdesivir not included as a priority drug, Reuters reports

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not included Gilead’s antiviral treatment remdesivir in a COVID-19 drug scheme aimed at supplying treatments to poor countries.

According to Reuters, the draft document prioritises monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19, as well as procuring doses of dexamethasone, a steroid originally used to treat a number of conditions including rheumatic problems and obstructive lung diseases.

'Immediate priorities for the (therapeutics) pillar are intensifying efforts on monoclonal antibodies while scaling up dexamethasone use,' the document stated.

The scheme is also co-led by the Wellcome Trust and Unitaid, and is a pillar of the WHO’s ACT Accelerator. This collaborative initiative aims to accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

Remdesivir is one of the only COVID-19 treatments with regulatory approval in the world, with the antiviral scoring US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in October.

The FDA approved remdesivir under the brand name Veklury for the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

In May, it was granted an emergency use authorisation for use in patients hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus which causes COVID-19.

In a phase 3 trial – ACTT-1 – remdesivir treatment resulted in clinically meaningful improvements across multiple outcome assessments when compared to placebo.

In the final day 29 results, the antiviral drug plus standard therapy was able to cut the time to clinical recovery by five days compared to placebo, with a median time to recovery of ten days with remdesivir treatment compared to 15 days in the placebo group.

Gilead said that this result was most profound in patients who required oxygen at baseline – in this subgroup, patients receiving remdesivir achieved clinical recovery seven days faster than those in the placebo group, with a median time to recovery of 11 days for remdesivir and 18 days for placebo.

However, the WHO published results from its own study of remdesivir, which it said showed that the drug had ‘little effect’ on COVID-19-associated mortality.

In response to the WHO study, a Gilead spokesperson told Reuters that “the emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomised, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir”.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

6th November 2020

From: Healthcare

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