The World Health Organization said on Friday it has suspended Gilead's remdesivir from its so-called prequalification list, an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries, after issuing guidance against its use in hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
"Yes we have suspended it from the PQ (prequalification list)," Tarik Jasarevic said in an emailed response to 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."
He added that the WHO was not aware that any international procurers were providing the drug to low-and middle-income countries.
Earlier WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel of international experts said in BMJ that the antiviral drug remdesivir is not suggested for patients admitted to hospital with covid-19, regardless of how severely ill they are, because there is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation.
The recommendation is part of a living guideline, developed by the World Health Organization with the methodological support of MAGIC Evidence Ecosystem Foundation, to provide trustworthy guidance on the management of covid-19 and help doctors make better decisions with their patients.
Living guidelines are useful in fast-moving research areas like covid-19 because they allow researchers to update previously vetted and peer-reviewed evidence summaries as new information become available.
Remdesivir has received worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment for severe covid-19 and is increasingly used to treat patients in the hospital. But its role in clinical practice has remained uncertain.
Today’s recommendation is based on a new evidence review comparing the effects of several drug treatments for covid-19. It includes data from four international randomised trials involving over 7,000 patients hospitalised for covid-19.