Jakarta: A World Health Organization (WHO) Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel of international experts is not recommending the use of the high-profile antiviral drug Remdesivir for hospitalized covid-19 patients, saying on Thursday there is insufficient evidence that it improves survival outcomes or cuts down on the need for patients to be put onto ventilators.
The advisory body made the recommendation in the BMJ – the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, published by the British Medical Association – as part of guidelines to manage the coronavirus and help doctors make better decisions in consultation with patients.
"Living guidelines are useful in fast moving research areas like covid-19 because they allow researchers to update previously vetted and peer reviewed evidence summaries as new information becomes available," said WHO, in a press release on the findings.
Remdesivir has received global attention in treating severe coronavirus cases and is increasingly being used for hospitalized patients. But its role in clinical practice has remained uncertain.
WHO’s recommendation is based on new evidence comparing the effects of several drugs on treating the virus and includes data from four international randomized trials involving more than 7,000 covid-19 inpatients.
After reviewing the evidence, the WHO GDG expert panel, which includes four patients who have had the coronavirus, concluded that the intravenously administered Remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement.
The panel acknowledged that the certainty of the evidence is low and 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.
However, the GDG supported the continued enrolment of patients into Remdesivir evaluation trials to determine whether more substantial evidence can be obtained, especially with regards to specific groups of patients.
The WHO press release also cites a feature article linked in the panel’s BMJ report, which says that the full story of Remdesivir will not be understood until its manufacturer, Gilead, releases full clinical study reports.