Can coronavirus drug remdesivir really save lives?
Last Friday, pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences shared more good news about the effectiveness of its COVID-19 treatment drug remdesivir. According to new clinical trial results published on Friday, the drug maker says new analysis of its antiviral drug remdesivir suggests a 62% cut in coronavirus mortality risk.
In a trial involving more than 1,100 patients, Gilead Sciences said remdesivir was associated with improved recovery and a 62 percent reduced risk for death compared with standard care. The study also showed that 74 percent of remdesivir-treated patients recovered by day 14 of treatment compared with 59 percent of patients receiving standard care.
In an announcement published on its website Friday, Gilead compared 312 patients dosed with remdesivir in its phase 3 SIMPLE trial against 818 patients who were not in the study and received “standard care.” The death rate for patients treated with remdesivir was 7.6 percent at day 14 compared with 12.5 percent among patients who did not receive the drug.
The drug seems to yield better results among Black participants. According to the findings, black patients fared especially well, the researchers found, and those younger than 65 years seemed to do better than older patients. As we reported back in May, patients who were not on a ventilator, breathing either room air or low-flow oxygen, appeared to benefit more compared with those who did require a ventilator.
On June 29, Gilead Sciences announced remdesivir, which was developed with at least $79 million in federal funding, will cost private insurers $520 for a single vial, hundreds of times its production cost, which researchers at the University of Liverpool have estimated at 93 cents per dose, according to a report from Intercept.
In the meantime, some health experts are still skeptical about the newly released trial results. In a Friday piece in FiercePharma, an online publication for pharmaceutical industry, FiercePharma author Eric Sagonowsky said, “Skeptics question Gilead data showing remdesivir cut death rates.” Below is how FiercePharma explains it.
Gilead Sciences released new data Friday showing its antiviral remdesivir slashed death rates by 62% compared with standard treatment, but health experts aren’t convinced. Gilead compared 312 patients dosed with remdesivir in its phase 3 SIMPLE trial against a historical cohort of 818 patients with similar disease severity on “standard of care,” but because that comparison wasn’t performed in a controlled trial, the numbers are “deeply flawed,” one expert said. Gilead itself said the findings “[require] confirmation in prospective clinical trials.”
In a shocking post, Dr. Faheem Younus, Chief of Infectious Diseases at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, went as far saying none of the current medicine is effective in preventing COVID-19. Instead, Dr. Younus recommends people to “Wear a mask, wash hands, avoid crowds and don’t crave fancy solutions. COVID prevention is a back to basics journey.”
Q: Which medicine prevents COVID?
Answer: None of the above!
Wear a mask, wash hands, avoid crowds and don’t crave fancy solutions.
COVID prevention is a back to basics journey.
— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) July 12, 2020