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Rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. (AP)
Rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. (AP)

WHO suspends remdesivir from list of medicines after warning against use on hospitalised Covid patients

  • Yes we have suspended it from the prequalification list, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said
  • The report also added that the WHO was not aware that any international procurers were providing the drug to low and middle-income countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday suspended popular antiviral medicine remdesivir from its so-called prequalification list, which is an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries, after issuing guidance against its use in hospitalised coronavirus patients.

"Yes we have suspended it from the PQ (prequalification list)," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said in an emailed response to news agency Reuters. "The suspension is a signal to countries that WHO, in compliance with the treatment guidelines, does not recommend countries procure the drug for COVID."

The report also added that the WHO was not aware that any international procurers were providing the drug to low and middle-income countries.

WHO warns against its use on Covid patients

Prior to the suspension of remdesivir, WHO had warned against the use of Gilead's remdesivir on Covid-19 patients.

WHO said that Gilead's remdesivir should not be used for patients hospitalised with the infection, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence the drug improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation.

"The ... panel found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients," the WHO guideline said.

"Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir ... the panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which is not established by the currently available data," it added.

'Potential treatment' for coronavirus cases

Initially, Gilead’s remdesivir was being touted as a potential treatment for cases of coronavirus for months.

Remdesivir was one of the drugs used to treat US President Donald Trump's Covid-19 infection, and had been shown in previous studies to have cut time to recovery. It was authorised for use as a treatment for coronavirus in over 50 countries.

In India, Gilead had signed non-exclusive deals with several pharma firms to boost the supply of remdesivir, which was so far the only approved treatment against Covid-19.

Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Zydus Cadila apart from Cipla and a few others were already making the generic remdesivir antiviral drug in the country.

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