FILE PHOTO: An ampule of remdesivir is pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, April 8, 2020, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. Ulrich Perrey/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
(Reuters) – The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Friday peer-reviewed data published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that Gilead Sciences Inc’s (GILD.O) remdesivir is effective at helping COVID-19 patients recover.
The trial, for which final results are still trickling in, showed that recovery time for patients given remdesivir was shortened by four days, or 31%, compared to placebo patients.
The data detailed in the journal is similar to early data that the NIH released last month from the study, which began in February with 1,063 participants in 10 countries.
Researchers now calculate that after 14 days of follow up, 7% of patients given remdesivir will have died, compared with 12% in the placebo group, but they said the difference in the death rate was not significant.
“Our findings highlight the need to identify COVID-19 cases and start antiviral treatment before the pulmonary disease progresses to require mechanical ventilation,” the researchers wrote.
They noted that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the antiviral drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of remdesivir on May 1, and Gilead has been supplying the drug to hospitals as part of a pledge to donate 1.5 million vials – or enough for at least 140,000 patients.
Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Aurora Ellis