Remdesivir: NOT a Game Changer

How I wish that this was a positive study regarding Remdesivir. We’re in need of a helpful tool. I’ve thrown every possible treatment including tPA at patients to try to save them and nothing is 100% at this point. I took apart the first Remdesivir study several weeks ago and was not impressed. History is repeating itself.

This study was published to much fanfare and media attention yesterday. It was so good that the Lancet hid it behind the paywall when they had made all their COVID coverage free until this point. Shady shady (EDIT: it is now free to download). I have to credit my partner Kelly for getting me this paper. My NP Cody texted me about it 45 seconds before Kelly. I love my team.

There’s much to go over here. I could be wrong, don’t trust me, read the data for yourself. There are many details I just can’t cover because I’m trying to live my life. Let’s go!

Investigator initiated: they weren’t randomized from the get-go based on certain criteria, someone chose these patients. If your patients have renal failure or are on CRRT, these data do not apply as they were excluded from the study. The placebo group had more males which it’s the sex harder hit by COVID but the Remdesivir group had more HTN, DM, and CAD. These patients were less ill than the prior study. Interpret that as you may.

Remdesivir, 200mg on day 1, 100mg days 2-10 vs. placebo (2:1); n=158 vs. 78

Primary Endpoint

Primary endpoint: time to clinical improvement within 28 days after randomization. What type of vague endpoint is that? Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s a very uncommon endpoint. Either way, there was no statistically significant difference. Now, they admit that it’s not statistically significant, but they said there’s a trend that if they started the study drug within 10 days there’s possibly a benefit for faster clinical improvement. That’s a lot of ifs but this is where I figure there should be a benefit if there was to be one. Even with this caveat in mind, there was no difference in mortality if started early or late.

Secondary Endpoints

Secondary endpoints that you and I care about: all-cause mortality at day 28; frequency of invasive mechanical ventilation; duration of oxygen therapy; duration of hospital admission. No difference in any of these. There wasn’t even a difference in viral loads. This is an antiviral drug, by the way.

Wrapping it up. Not excited at this point about Remdesivir

To be honest with you I’m not even going to go over the adverse effect stuff because I’m not convinced this works and I don’t think I can get my hands on it for my patients even if I wanted it. Well, maybe now since others may feel the same way I do and many aren’t going to want it.

The study was stopped early because they didn’t have enough patients to continue. Why not phone some friends and make the study multicentered? I disagree. I’m not a research conducting guy. I don’t want to further expose my ignorance.

I’m tired. This COVID stuff has exhausted me and I’m not even in an epicenter. I sympathize for all my colleagues in busier places than me. I have a strange survivorship guilt thing going on. I’m here for you all.


Wang Y Zhang D Du G et al. Remdesivir in adults with severe COVID-19: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial. Lancet. 2020; (published online April 29.)

Addendum: the Lancet now made the paper open access. I can’t take the credit for them doing that! 

Link to Article
Link to PDF

If you’re interested in other things COVID, I have more articles available.

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