Antiviral remdesivir should not be used as routine treatment for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, said the head of one of the world‘s leading agencies representing intensive care physicians in a blow against the drug developed by US company Gilead.
Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, and the steroid dexamethasone are the only drugs approved worldwide for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. However, the largest study on remdesivir’s effectiveness conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on October 15 showed it had little or no effect, contradicting previous studies.
Given the new preliminary data from the WHO solidarity study, “Remdesivir is now classified as a drug that you should not routinely use in COVID-19 patients,” said European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) President Jozef Kesecioglu in an interview with Reuters.
Kesecioglu said the recommendation will be discussed in a scientific article on COVID therapies that ESICM is preparing with the Society of Critical Care Medicine, another intensive care unit, expected to be released in January.
In the first version of the paper, released in March, there wasn’t enough information to recommend the use of remdesivir and other antivirals in critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Gilead, who has questioned WHO findings, said in an email, “We are confident that frontline doctors are seeing the clinical benefits of Veklury based on solid evidence from multiple randomized controlled trials.”
ESICM represents thousands of anesthetists, respiratory doctors, nurses and other critical care professionals in more than 120 countries.
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