Remdesivir Is No Silver Bullet Against Coronavirus, Company Halts Trial

April 24, 2020 Topic: Health Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: RemdesivirCoronavirusHealthEconomyCOVID-19

Remdesivir Is No Silver Bullet Against Coronavirus, Company Halts Trial

But maybe all hope is not lost just yet: The company added that the results were inconclusive but showed "a potential benefit" of the drug, and that the available data will be submitted for peer-reviewed study.

Just over a week ago, global stocks surged on the news of a promising coronavirus treatment. It was a drug called remdesivir, first developed by Gilead Sciences to fight Ebola and viruses like it. The drug has been in trials for its coronavirus uses since January.

Sure, the evidence for the drug's success, which led to such optimism on April 17, was a bit thin. There was a report from a single hospital in Chicago that had seen"rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms." But this information came from a news report from a website that had obtained a video discussion in which a participating doctor discussed their work.

The news report itself cautioned that this was "merely a snapshot" of a much larger study, while the University of Chicago said in a statement that "drawing any conclusions at this point is premature and scientifically unsound." Even with those caveats, that snapshot was enough optimism to cause stocks to surge worldwide.

A week later, the news isn't as good. On Thursday, a screenshot of a description of a Gilead study of the drug was, per CNN, posted to the website of the World Health Organization, stating that "Remdesivir use was not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement" and "in this study of hospitalized adult patients with severe Covid-19 that was terminated prematurely, Remdesivir was not associated with clinical or virological benefits."

The study was of “severe” coronavirus patients in China, and was not the same as the Chicago research referenced in last week's report. The information was later removed from the WHO website.

Gilead later said in a statement attributed to its chief medical officer that the study was both prematurely posted to the WHO site, and also that "the study was terminated early due to low enrollment and, as a result, it was underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions."

The company added that the results were inconclusive but showed "a potential benefit" of the drug, and that the available data will be submitted for peer-reviewed study.

There are several other Phase III studies of the drug which are still ongoing.

The news, per CNN, led global stocks to slump early Friday.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.