THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Health experts question the wide use of Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug, despite evidence that the drug was not that effective against severe Covid-19 infection. The drug is part of Covid-19 treatment protocol even though the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Unions have discouraged its use.Despite the evidence, Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL) and private hospitals have given more orders for stocking the medicine considering the severe shortage witnessed in other states.
“The overall evidence on the effectiveness of Remdesivir for treating Covid-19 is thin. Doctors who go by evidence-based medicine do not recommend the use of Remdesivir,” said Dr N M Arun, internal medicine specialist and a public health expert. However a representative of Indian Medical Association said that the broad-spectrum anti-viral drug has been widely used in several private hospitals.
The WHO while recommending against the use of Remdesivir on Covid-19 patients said that it had no important effect on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and other patient-important outcomes. Doctors in medical colleges who treat the most serious cases of Covid-19 patients have been prudent about the use of the drug. “Remdesivir is not a game-changer like steroids,” said an infectious disease expert in a government medical college.
According to him, drugs such as corticosteroids and Tocilizumab were found to be more effective in treating severe infections. According to Dr Arun, the steroids were found to be effective in treating conditions when the body’s immune system goes haywire due to severe infection caused by SARS-CoV-2. Steroids, also called corticosteroids, are anti-inflammatory medicines used to treat a range of conditions.
The government drug stores had excess stock of Remdesivir due to its low demand. “There was a plan to return the stock of over 224 vials. But the plan was shelved as the shortage was reported in other states,” said an officer. According to him, the shortage in other states was due to the indiscriminate use. The state drugs control department has put a tab on the stock of Remdesivir and other drugs used for Covid-19 treatment.
According to drugs controller K J John, the stock position in government stores has reached close to 2,500 vials. As many as five pharmaceutical companies have delivered the medicine. Some of them have opened direct lines to private hospitals to meet any shortage.
W.H.O ON ITS USE
The WHO while recommending against the use of Remdesivir on Covid-19 patients said that it had no important effect on mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and other patient-important outcomes