Already contested, will remdesivir be totally abandoned in the fight against the coronavirus? The World Health Organization (WHO) announces, Friday, November 20, that it recommends not to administer this antiviral drug to hospitalized Covid-19 patients, for lack of proof that it avoids deaths or serious forms of the disease. sickness.
“The antiviral drug remdesivir is not recommended for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, regardless of the severity of their illness, as there is currently no evidence that it improves the survival or to avoid being placed under artificial ventilation “, details its press release.
Developed by the American laboratory Gilead, initially against Ebola, remdesivir became on July 3 the first drug against Covid to receive a conditional European marketing authorization.
In France, the Haute Autorité de Santé had, however, considered that its interests (or “actual benefit”) was “low”. And the European Medicines Agency said on October 2 that it was going to investigate reports that “acute kidney problems” could be related to taking remdesivir.
The WHO decides after an opinion of its panel of experts, who analyzed four international clinical trials comparing the effectiveness of different treatments, involving a total of more than 7,000 patients worldwide.
In their conclusions, published in the medical journal BMJ, they emphasize “the possibility of significant side effects” of this medication, as well as “its relatively high cost and its logistical implications”, since“it must be administered intravenously”.
A study made public in mid-October and carried out in more than thirty countries with the support of the WHO already concluded that remdesivir had not proved any benefit in terms of reduction of mortality.
According to a study published at the end of May in the American journal New England Journal of Medicine, on the other hand, it slightly reduces the recovery time of hospitalized Covid-19 patients (from 15 to 11 days on average).
WHO experts point out that it cannot be said at this stage that remdesivir has no benefit. But the fact that its effectiveness has not been proven combined with its drawbacks (possible side effects and cost) leads them not to recommend it.
For now, corticosteroids (including dexamethasone) are the only treatment that has reduced mortality from Covid-19, although this is only true for a category of patients (severe cases that require administration of oxygen). WHO has recommended their “systematic use in patients with severe or critical disease”.