The experimental coronavirus treatment remdesivir has failed in its first randomised clinical trial, inadvertently released results showed, dampening expectations for the closely watched drug.
A draft summary went online briefly on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) and was first reported by the Financial Times and Stat, which posted a screenshot.
But Gilead Sciences, the company behind the medicine, disputed how the now-deleted post had characterised the findings, saying the data showed a “potential benefit.”
The summary said the Chinese trial involved 237 patients, with 158 on the drug and 79 in a control group. Remdesivir was stopped early in 18 patients because of side effects.
The authors said remdesivir was “not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement” compared to the control.
After a month, 13.9 per cent of the patients on remdesivir had died compared to 12.8 per cent of those in the control group. The difference is not statistically significant.
The WHO told the Financial Times that the draft is undergoing peer review and was published early in error.
The study does not represent the final word on the matter, and there are several large-scale trials in advanced stages that should soon provide a clearer picture.
Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously, was among the first drugs suggested as a treatment for the novel coronavirus and as such has great hopes riding on it.