World Health Organisation on Friday said that Gilead's drug remdesivir is not recommended for COVID-19 patients, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence that it improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation.
"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," the guideline said, as reported by Deccan Herald.
In October, Gilead had cut its 2020 revenue forecast citing lack of demand and difficulty in predicting sales of remdesivir.
Remdesivir is one of the two medicines currently authorized to treat COVID-19 patients across the world, but the WHO-led Solidarity Trial showed last month that it had little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.
The drug has been approved for use as a COVID-19 treatment in more than 50 countries, and it was used to treat US President Donald Trump's coronavirus infection. It had also been shown in previous studies that the drug cuts the time to recover.
Gilead has questioned the results of the Solidarity Trial.
But the WHO's Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel said its recommendation was based on an evidence review that included data from four international randomised trials that involved more than 7,000 patients infected with COVID-19.
After reviewing the evidence, the panel said, it concluded that remdesivir, which has to be given intravenously and is therefore costly and complex to administer, has no meaningful effect on death rates or other important outcomes for patients.
"Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir…the panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which not established by the currently available data," it added.
The latest WHO advice came after the world's top bodies representing intensive care doctors said that the antiviral should not be used for COVID-19 patients in critical care wards.
The WHO's recommendation is not binding and is a part of its so-called "living guidelines" project, designed to offer guidance for doctors to help them make clinical decisions about patients during such pandemics. These guidelines can be updated and reviewed as new evidence and information emerge.