Recently revealed emails show Fauci and NIAID officials “scrambled in April 2020 to answer questions about altering the endpoint” in a trial of remdesivir. Once the drug was declared the new standard of care for COVID-19, as Forbes reported, Gilead’s stock surged more than 16 percent in overnight trading.
Cihlar and Lane had reason to be glad over what Fauci called “quite good news.” In its press release on remdesivir, also known as Veklury, Gilead claims that its FDA-approved drug “can help reduce disease progression across a spectrum of disease severity and enable hospitalized patients to recover faster, freeing up limited hospital resources and saving healthcare systems money.”
Scientific and medical journals were skeptical, to say the least.
As Jon Cohen and Kai Kupferschmidt noted in Science magazine, the European Union cut a deal in October 2020 with Gilead potentially worth $1 billion. Later that month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made remdesivir the first drug to receive approved status for COVID treatment.
The European Union settled on remdesivir pricing—$2,400 for a full course—one week before the Solidarity trial, and was unaware of the results. For its part, the Science authors charge, Gilead “knew the trial was a bust.” That didn’t sit well with Scripps Institute cardiologist Eric Topol.
“This is a very, very bad look for the FDA,” Topol told Science, “and the dealings between Gilead and EU make it another layer of badness.” The EU and American decisions, the Science authors noted, “baffled scientists who have closely watched the clinical trials of remdesivir unfold over the past six months—and who have many questions about remdesivir’s worth.”
One study found that remdesivir “modestly reduced the time to recover from COVID-19 in hospitalized patients with severe illness.” Other studies found remdesivir to have “no impact of treatment on the disease whatsoever.” The fourth and largest study, by the World Health Organization, “showed that remdesivir does not reduce mortality or the time COVID-19 patients take to recover.”
The Science authors cite Jason Pogue of the University of Michigan, president of the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists, that the FDA should not have approved remdesivir. There is not enough evidence that remdesivir works and “more questions than answers about the efficacy of remdesivir in hospitalized patients.”
Gary Schwitzer, publisher of HealthNewsReview.Org, found Fauci’s announcement of remdesivir as the standard of care “troubling.” Schwitzer also cited Dr. Eric Topol, who was “unimpressed” by the Gilead drug. As Schwitzer pointed out, “the primary endpoints or outcomes were shifted by the researchers in the NIH trial” (emphasis added). In the middle of that trial, the endpoint was changed from measuring the effectiveness against death and various forms of hospitalization on day 15 to time to recovery through day 29.
For the general public, Schwitzer wrote, “this is somewhat akin to the football field being shrunk so that the goal line is not 100 yards away but only 50 yards away—after the game has already begun.” And it was only after scientists and journalists pointed to evidence that the goalposts had been moved “that any public discussion or explanation was made by the researchers.”
In his public statement in April 2020, Fauci said the trial results proved remdesivir “can block the virus” that causes COVID-19, but the NIAID boss didn’t mention the change in endpoint. If anybody thought Fauci was rigging the trial to get the outcome he and Gilead wanted, it would be hard to blame them. And it wouldn’t be the first time.
Fauci’s favored treatment for AIDS was AZT (azidothymidine) marketed as Zidovudine. This DNA chain terminator is highly toxic and does not prevent or cure AIDS. Even so, in 1987, the FDA approved AZT at lightning speed, which disturbed molecular biologist Harvey Bialy, then scientific editor of Biotechnology.
“I can’t see how this drug could be doing anything other than making people very sick,” Bialy said. On the other hand, AZT was making some people very rich. At a price of $8,000 per patient per year, AZT was the most expensive drug ever marketed at the time. After FDA approval, Burroughs Wellcome stock went through the roof.
Fauci’s NIAID funded trials of AZT and other dangerous drugs on foster children in New York, nearly all of them African American or Latino. According to one nurse, some 80 children died in the experiments. (For further reading, see Poison by Prescription: The AZT Story, by John Lauritsen.)
Cohen and Kupferschmidt cite a disproportionately high number of liver and kidney problems in patients receiving remdesivir, compared to other drugs. In The Real Anthony Fauci, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. cites the “toxicity” of remdesivir, Fauci’s “vanity drug.” Remdesivir shows “no clinical efficiency” against COVID, but at approximately $3,000 per treatment, remdesivir is much more expensive than either hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, treatments that Fauci opposes.
As Kennedy explains, Fauci’s deputy Cliff Lane co-chaired the NIH treatment guidelines panel that supervised the remdesivir trials and stood to share in the patent rewards. So Lane was “doubly conflicted.”
Meanwhile, as the prophet said, “is there no balm in Gilead?” Not this time, but there is a great deal of money.