A large study conducted by the World Health Organization found that four possible drug treatments for COVID-19 had "little or no effect" on reducing death rates in hospitalized patients. The randomized study looked at more than 11,000 patients at over 400 hospitals around the world who had been treated with remdesivir, interferon hydroxychloroquine, and/or lopinavir/ritonavir.
"No study drug definitely reduced mortality (in unventilated patients or any other subgroup of entry characteristics), initiation of ventilation or hospitalization duration," the authors of the study wrote.
Last week, Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, published the results of their own study, which found that the drug did decrease mortality rates in patients who were receiving oxygen support. The company said that overall, there was not a statistically significant reduction in death rates among all the patients involved in the study.
The company released a statement questioning the methodology of the WHO's study.
"The emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of Veklury® (remdesivir)," company officials wrote. "We are concerned that the data from this open-label global trial have not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design."
While remdesivir has not been approved to treat COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization, allowing doctors to use it to treat patients. President Donald Trump received the drug as part of his treatment when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
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