WHO removes ‘remdesivir’ from prequalification list for treatment of COVID-19

The World Health Organization said on Friday it has suspended Gilead’s ‘remdesivir’ from its prequalification list, an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries, after issuing guidance against its use in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

“Yes we have suspended it from the PQ (prequalification list),” Tarik Jasarevic, WHO spokesperson said in an emailed response to Reuters. “The suspension is a signal to countries that WHO, in compliance with the treatment guidelines, does not recommend countries procure the drug for COVID,” he further said.


He added that WHO was not aware that any international procurers were providing the drug to low-and middle-income countries. WHO had warned that the antiviral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat COVID patients, no matter how ill they are as there is no evidence it works.

“The panel found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients such as reduced mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and others,” Xinhua news agency quoted the WHO’s Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel as saying in a statement.

“Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains,” the panel added in response.

The WHO recommendation, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on an evidence review that included data from four international randomized trials among more than 7,000 hospitalized patients.

The developments came nearly a month after the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approved remdesivir for the treatment of the coronavirus, making it the first drug to get the final go-ahead for curing the deadly COVID-19.