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WHO trial casts doubt on remdesivir and other drugs

In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said interim trial results suggest that Gilead’s remdesivir was no better than a placebo at limiting severely ill patients’ need for mechanical ventilation, the length of their hospital stay, or their risk of death.

The trial involved 11,266 hospitalized adults with COVID-19 in more than 30 countries, including 2,750 who were randomly assigned to receive remdesivir. The trial also tested treating patients with hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, interferon, or lopinavir-plus-interferon.

“No study drug definitely reduced mortality…, initiation of ventilation or hospitalization duration,” the WHO reported Thursday in a paper posted on the preprint server medRxiv ahead of peer review.

When asked for comment, Gilead pointed to other studies that showed remdesivir had produced clinical benefits, and said it was “unclear if any conclusive findings can be drawn” from the WHO data due to differences in how the trial was conducted from site to site and between the patients who received the medicine.

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