The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday that a sixth-month randomized trial of COVID-19 treatments found “conclusive evidence” that remdesivir, a drug used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump when he fell ill, has little or no effect on severe cases of the virus.
The WHO, in what they said was the world’s largest randomized control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics, tested remdesivir and three other drugs – hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon – as part the agency’s research to determine if existing drugs might be effective in treating COVID-19.
At a news briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva Friday, a WHO spokesman said the results of the study, which was not peer-reviewed, “indicate that remdesivir hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appear to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality, or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.”
The WHO said the study, which covered more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of the treatments on overall death rates, whether patients need breathing machines, and how much time patients spent recovering in hospitals.
Previous studies had already ruled out three of the drugs. But the findings run counter to a clinical trial of remdesivir by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in April which indicated the drug accelerated the recovery rates of people with severe cases of COVID-19.
The company that makes remdesivir, Gilead Sciences, Inc., saw the price of its stock begin to fall as the news of the WHO study broke Friday.
The company issued a statement saying data appeared inconsistent, the findings were premature and referenced the other studies, such as the one by the NIH, which had validated the drug’s benefits.
Remdesivir was among an array of drugs used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump when he contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.