Leading intensive care center does not recommend using remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment
The antiviral drug Remdesivir should not be used as a routine treatment for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, said the head of one of the world’s leading organizations representing intensive care physicians..
Remdesivir, also known as «Vekluri» (Veklury) and the steroid dexamethasone are the only drugs approved for the treatment of COVID-19 patients worldwide. But the largest study of the effectiveness of remdesivir, conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), showed in October that it had little or no effect, which contradicts previous trials..
In light of new interim data from the WHO «Solidarity» (Solidarity), «remdesivir is now classified as a drug you shouldn’t use regularly to treat COVID-19 patients», – said the President of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) Josef Kesecioglu (Jozef Kesecioglu) in an interview with Reuters.
Kesecioglu said this recommendation will be discussed in a scientific paper on the treatment of COVID-19, which ESICM is preparing in conjunction with the Society of Critical Care Medicine, another intensive care body, which is expected to be published by January..
The first version of the article, released in March, said there was insufficient information to recommend the use of remdesivir and other antiviral drugs in critically ill COVID-19 patients..
Gilead Sciences, which questioned WHO’s findings, said in an email: «We are confident that frontline physicians recognize the clinical benefits of Veklury based on robust evidence from a variety of randomized controlled trials.».
ESICM represents thousands of anesthesiologists, respirators, nurses and other intensive care professionals in over 120 countries.
Although doctors and hospitals are not required to follow the organization’s advice, this recommendation may limit the use of remdesivir.
In late October, Gilead cut its 2020 revenue forecast citing weaker-than-expected demand and difficulty forecasting remdesivir sales..
However, the drug is still widely used in hospitals and clinics. It is licensed or approved for use in over 50 countries and was one of the medications given by the President of the United States Donald Trump, when he tested positive for coronavirus in October.
The European Union signs a € 1 billion ($ 1.2 billion) deal with Gilead for 500,000 courses of remdesivir at € 2,070 each, just days before the study results.
The deal does not oblige European countries to buy remdesivir, but governments decided to place large orders even after the results of Solidarity, when Germany bought large stocks in November, saying the drug was beneficial, especially at the onset of the illness..
Kesecioglu said there is insufficient data on when or for which patients remdesivir might be effective, leading to the decision to abandon its usual use in intensive care units..
This means doctors should only use remdesivir occasionally and not as a standard treatment for COVID-19 patients..
Due to the unclear benefits of remdesivir, the intensive care unit of the University Medical Center of Utrecht in the Netherlands, where Kesecioglu operates, has not used it to treat COVID-19 patients..
Ten months after the pandemic began, controversy continues to rage in the medical industry over which drugs are best for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients..
Remdesivir has potential kidney side effects according to data provided by Gilead to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which evaluates its potential toxicity..
Arno Hot (Arnaud Hot), head of the department of medicine at Edouard Herriot hospital in Lyon, France, told Reuters that some patients at his hospital had kidney injuries, so they no longer used remdesivir, except in rare cases..
Treatment with Remdesivir for COVID-19
Kesecioglu said convalescent plasma, which is also experimentally administered to some COVID-19 patients despite not being approved, has also not been recommended by ESICM for daily use in intensive care, as the benefits of this method are unclear..
He added that the potential side effects of convalescent plasma – the liquid portion of blood taken from COVID-19 patients – are also uncertain..
In contrast, Kesecioglu said that dexamethasone is recommended for hospitalized patients because there is enough information about its effectiveness..
United Airlines Delivers Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine for the First Time