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WHO suspends Remdesivir from list of medicines


Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas
| Pune |

November 20, 2020 11:19:36 pm


Remdesivir has received worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment for severe Covid-19 and is increasingly being used to treat patients in the hospital. (Representational)

World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Friday said that antiviral drug Remdesivir, often used in the treatment of coronavirus infection, has been dropped from the prequalification list – an official list of medicines – because of negative recommendations.

The suspension is a signal to countries that WHO, in compliance with the treatment guidelines, does not recommend countries procure the drug for Covid-19, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said in an email response to The Indian Express.

Remdesivir has received worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment for severe Covid-19 and is increasingly being used to treat patients in the hospital.

On Friday, the WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel of international experts also said Remdesivir is not suggested for patients hospitalised with Covid-19, regardless of how severely ill they are, because there is currently no evidence that it improves survival or need for ventilation. This was reported in the BMJ on Friday.

The recommendation is based on new evidence review comparing the effects of several drug treatments for Covid-19. It includes data from four international randomised trials involving over 7,000 patients hospitalised for Covid-19.

After thoroughly reviewing the evidence, the WHO GDG expert panel, which includes experts from around the world including four patients who have had Covid-19, concluded that Remdesivir had no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement.

“Because of all these negative recommendations, WHO has decided to suspend Remdesivir from the prequalification list,” Dr Swaminathan told The Indian Express.

Earlier interim results (yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal) of the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial — a large-scale global trial studying the effectiveness of repurposed therapies in Covid-19 treatment — indicated that none of the treatments, including Remdesivir, was beneficial.

Dr Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said a WHO expert panel has based its conclusion on more evidence and is justified in its decision to suspend Remdesivir.

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