The World Health Organization on Thursday advised against the use of Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir for treating coronavirus patients, no matter how ill they are, saying that there is no evidence to suggest that the medicine improves survival or reduces the need to put patients on ventilator.

WHO updated its existing guidelines, which are published on the The BMJ medical journal. “When moving from evidence to the conditional recommendation against the use of remdesivir in patients with covid-19, the panel emphasised the evidence suggesting no important effect on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and other patient-important outcomes,” a WHO panel said.

  “Considering the low or very low certainty evidence for all outcomes, the panel interpreted the evidence as not proving that remdesivir is ineffective; rather, there is no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes.”  

— WHO panel

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The global health body had found in a “Solidarity Therapeutics” trial last month that the drug, which has been authorised for Covid-19 treatment in several countries, did not reduce deaths among patients or cut the duration of their treatment in hospitals.

Despite the results, the United States Food and Drug Administration on October 22 approved remdesivir for treating hospitalised coronavirus patients. The Gilead Sciences-manufactured drug is the first and only medicine to be approved for the coronavirus in the country.

Data from another study in the US showed that remdesivir reduced patients’ recovery time by five days, according to Reuters. The medicine was granted emergency approval in the country in May.

The drug had also been used to treat US President Donald Trump for the coronavirus, according to the news agency.

In India, Gujarat based-firm Zydus Cadila had signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences to produce and sell remdesivir. The firm had launched its version of the medicine in August, at Rs 2,800 for a 100 gram vial. Apart from Zydus Cadila, Hetero Labs, Cipla, Mylan NV and Jubilant Life Sciences also signed agreements to produce the drug in India.