Gilead releases full results of remdesivir trial

Remdesivir quickened the recovery time for COVID-19 patients but did little to benefit patients on ventilators, according to study results from Gilead's clinical trial of the drug, the first given emergency approval to treat COVID-19, STAT reports. 

The full data from Gilead's clinical trial, being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was released May 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine

The trial included 1,063 patients, with 538 receiving remdesivir and 521 being given a placebo. The patients given remdesivir recovered in a median of 11 days, compared to 15 days for the placebo group, STAT reported. 

Mortality in the remdesivir group was 7.1 percent, compared to 11.9 percent for the placebo group, slightly better than previous results. 

"It's a very safe and effective drug," Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told STAT. "We now have a definite first efficacious drug for COVID-19, which is a major step forward and will be built upon with other drugs [and drug] combinations."

There was no sign of benefit for patients who began taking remdesivir while on ventilators or who were receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a treatment in which oxygen is added to the blood outside the body, according to STAT

Knowing which patients benefit from remdesivir the most could be important for deciding who gets the drug, as it has been in short supply, STAT reports. In the full study results, the benefit of remdesivir appeared to be much larger for patients who were less sick. 

The study was stopped after a data safety and monitoring board told NIAID that there was a statistically significant benefit of remdesivir, and critics have said the study should have continued to better discern if remdesivir reduces the death rate, STAT reports. 

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