Treating coronavirus patients with the antiviral drug remdesivir showed no “significant clinical benefits” in the first randomised trial of its kind, according to a review released on Wednesday.
In a study among more than 200 COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, published in The Lancet, doctors found no positive effects of administering the drug compared with a control group of adults.
The findings were released after US pharmaceutical giant Gilead, which makes remdesivir, said a separate large-scale trial with the drug had showed positive results.
“Unfortunately, our trial found that while safe and adequately tolerated, remdesivir did not provide significant benefits over placebo,” said Bin Cao from China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in China, who led the research.
“This is not the outcome we hoped for.”
The Wuhan study was conducted in 237 COVID-19 patients, half of whom were given remdesivir. The other half were treated as a control group and given standard antibiotics.
The mortality rate was the same in both groups, around 14 percent of each.
However those patients who required ventilators spend far less time on the devices than the control group –an average of seven days compared with an average of 15 days.
“No significant differences were noted between the groups in duration of oxygen support, length of hospital stay, or time to discharge or death,” the study said.
The authors said the trial has several limitations, including the fact that it was stopped prematurely when patient numbers dropped too low to continue as Wuhan got a grip on the outbreak.
But they called for further randomized trials of the drug.