Remdesivir, a potential antiviral drug for the coronavirus has reportedly failed in its first randomized clinical trial. It has been shown in some animal studies to treat coronaviruses similar to the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and there were hopes that it could treat covid-19 in humans.
However, a Chinese trial showed that the drug had not been successful, according to draft documents accidentally published by the World Health Organization. The drug did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream, it said.
The US firm behind the drug, Gilead Sciences, said the document had mischaracterized the study.
News of the failed trial spread after the WHO posted details on its clinical trials database, before it was removed. The WHO has since confirmed the draft report was mistakenly uploaded.
It showed that researchers studied 237 patients, administering the drug to 158 and comparing their progress with the remaining 79, who received a placebo.
After a month, 13.9% of the patients taking the drug had died compared to 12.8% of those receiving the placebo. The trial was stopped early because of side-effects.
“Remdesivir was not associated with clinical or virological benefits,” the summary states.
What has the company said?
Gilead has disputed the WHO post.
“We believe the post included inappropriate characterizations of the study,” a spokesman for Gilead said, adding that it was terminated early due to low enrollment and was therefore not statistically meaningful.
“As such, the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease,” he said.
This does not spell the end of the road for the drug, however, and several continuing trials will soon provide a clearer picture on the drug’s use.