The world mostly forgot about remdesivir it seems, after the badly overhyped medication developed initially by Gilead Sciences to treat ebola failed to show any efficacy in severely ill patients according to a massive WHO study.
While the FDA nevertheless approved the medication, arguing the data had shown it had proven modestly effective in treating mild to moderate cases of the virus, the WHO had already made up its mind. And on Thursday evening, the WHO officially recommended that doctors shouldn't prescribe the drug to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.
This, despite all those assurances from Dr. Fauci that the drug, which prior to COVID had been a major money loser for Gilead, would revolutionize care related to the virus.
Remdesivir was among the cocktail of medications delivered to President Trump, though the president largely credited his recovery to the antibody medication developed by Regeneron.
The recommendation is a so-called living guideline, which means it could be changed based on the fast-moving research. The WHO attributed its decision to four different studies involving more than 7,000 patients.
"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," an expert panel of the WHO wrote in the British Medical Journal on Friday.
The WHO is also moving to suspend remdesivir from its prequalification list, something that will effectively make it impossible for developing countries to obtain the (apparently useless) antiviral.
Gilead has so far refused to accept data showing remdesivir has little benefit for COVID patients. The company has already booked $873 million in remdesivir sales last quarter, and warned investors that Q4 could be a flop if remdesivir flops.
It's a shame, really: back in the spring, Gilead published every scrap of news about remdesivir, and practically every time they were rewarded with a pop not only in Gilead's shares, but in the broader market. Sure enough, Gilead shares took a hit on the news, sliding nearly 2%.