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Remdesivir (Veklury, Gilead) was found to reduce some COVID-19 patients’ risk of hospitalization by 87% in a phase 3 trial, the drug’s manufacturer announced Wednesday in a press release.
Cardiologist Robert L. Gottlieb, MD, PhD, from Baylor University Medical Center in Houston, Texas, was principal investigator for the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which evaluated the efficacy and safety of a 3-day course of intravenous (IV) remdesivir in an analysis of 562 nonhospitalized patients at high risk for disease progression.
Remdesivir demonstrated a statistically significant 87% reduction in risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization or all-cause death by Day 28 (0.7% [2/279]) compared with placebo (5.3% [15/283]) P = .008. Participants were assigned 1:1 to remdesivir or the placebo group.
Researchers also found an 81% reduction in risk for the composite secondary endpoint — medical visits due to COVID-19 or all-cause death by Day 28. Only 1.6% had COVID-19 medical visits [4/246]) compared with those in the placebo group (8.3% [21/252]) P = .002. No deaths were observed in either arm by Day 28.
“These latest data show remdesivir’s potential to help high-risk patients recover before they get sicker and stay out of the hospital altogether,” Gottlieb said in the press release.
Remdesivir is the only drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for hospitalized COVID-19 patients at least 12 years old. Its treatment of nonhospitalized patients with 3 days of dosing is investigational, and the safety and efficacy for this use and dosing duration have not been established or approved by any regulatory agency, the Gilead press release notes.
The patients in this study were considered high-risk for disease progression based on comorbidities — commonly obesity, hypertension, and diabetes — and age, but had not recently been hospitalized due to COVID-19.
A third of the participants were at least 60 years old. Participants in the study must have received a positive diagnosis within 4 days of starting treatment and experienced symptoms for 7 days or less.
Use of Remdesivir Controversial
Results from the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT-1) showed remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening time to recovery in adults hospitalized with COVID-19 and had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.
However, a large trial of more than 11,000 people in 30 countries, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), did not show any benefit for the drug in reducing COVID deaths.
The WHO has conditionally recommended against using remdesivir in hospitalized patients, regardless of disease severity, “as there is currently no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes in these patients.”
The drug also is given intravenously and this study tested three infusions over 3 days, a difficult treatment for nonhospitalized patients.
The study results were released ahead of IDWeek, where the late-breaking abstract will be presented at the virtual conference in full at the end of next week.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News, and Nurse.com, and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.