(Adds details, background)
ZURICH/GENEVA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - A World Health
Organization (WHO) trial that concluded Gilead Sciences Inc.'s
remdesivir did not significantly help COVID-19 patients
is reliable, a scientist who evaluated the data said on Friday,
as the U.S. company criticized its methodology.
"It's a reliable result, don't let anybody tell you
otherwise, because they'll try to," Richard Peto, an independent
statistician hired by the WHO to scrutinize its Solidarity trial
results, told reporters. "This is real world evidence."
In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people
with COVID-19, the WHO said on Thursday that remdesivir appeared
to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of
hospital stays among patients with the respiratory
Gilead, which got the Solidarity data 10 days ago,
questioned the findings, telling Reuters they appear
"inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple
randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed
journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir."
The WHO trial was conducted in 11,266 adult patients in more
than 30 countries, and also found that other medicines
repurposed since the pandemic began -- malaria drug
hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination
lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon -- also offered little or no
benefit to COVID-19 patients.
The WHO trial's results are yet to be reviewed and were
uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv. (https://bit.ly/3nViYIf)
While Gilead said other remdesivir trials, including with
1,062 patients that compared it with a placebo, showed the
treatment cut COVID-19 recovery time, Peto, a professor emeritus
at Oxford University, said the smaller trial's perceived benefit
could have been mere "chance."
The WHO refrained from making a recommendation for how
countries should deploy remdesivir, saying that guidance would
come in two or three weeks after a review of Solidarity data.
The European Union just agreed to a 1 billion euros ($1.2
billion) deal for remdesivir.
($1 = 0.8535 euros)
(Reporting by John Miller and Stephanie Nebehay;)