Antiviral remdesivir should not be used as a routine treatment for COVID-19 patients in critical care wards, the head of one of the world’s top bodies representing intensive care doctors said, in a blow to the drug developed by U.S. firm Gilead.
Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, and steroid dexamethasone are the only drugs authorised to treat COVID-19 patients across the world. But the largest study on remdesivir’s efficacy, run by the World Health Organization (WHO), showed on Oct. 15 it had little or no impact, contradicting previous trials.
In light of the new interim data from the WHO’s Solidarity trial “remdesivir is now classified as a drug you should not use routinely in COVID-19 patients,” the President of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), Jozef Kesecioglu, said in an interview with Reuters.
Kesecioglu said the recommendation would be discussed in a scientific paper on COVID therapies that ESICM is preparing with the Society of Critical Care Medicine, another intensive care body, expected to be published by January.
The first version of the paper, released in March, said there was not enough information to recommend the use of remdesivir and other antivirals in critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Gilead, which has questioned the WHO’s findings, said in an emailed statement: “We are confident that doctors on the front lines recognise the clinical benefit of Veklury based on robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies.”
ESICM represents thousands of anaesthesiologists, respiratory physicians, nurses and other critical care professionals in more than 120 countries.
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