Study Lists All The Drugs Used So Far Across The Globe To Treat COVID-19 Patients

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 126 vaccine candidates are currently in the preclinical stage and more than 10 others are under clinical evaluation. Until then, scientists are leaving no stone unturned. A new study analyzed off-label drugs for their individual efficacy. 

Researchers of the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania compiled a list of off-label drugs, which were then measured against the duration of symptom-resolution for all patients. Since the data was limited, a comparison between the drugs could not be made. 

The paper was published in the journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy on May 27. The initiative called COvid19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents (CORONA) aims to push potential drugs forward into randomized controlled trials, for eventual approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

They searched databases such as PubMed, BioRxiv, MedRxiv and ChinaXiv and identified 2,706 articles that were published between December 1, 2019 and March 27, 2020. Of all the articles, 155 studies were included to draw up an inventory of drugs. In total, the study looked at 9,152 COVID-19 patients with a mean age of 44, 98.3 percent of whom were hospitalized and 45.4 percent were female. 

Drugs A systematic review by University of Pennsylvania found 115 treatments that were used to experimentally treat COVID-19. Pixabay

The systematic review found 115 treatments that were used in trial and error methods that had “clinically meaningful response”. The most common classes of drugs that were used were the following:   

  • Antivirals administered to  6,547 or 71.5 percent of the study participants
  • Antibiotics taken by 4,263 or 46.6 percent of participants
  • Corticosteroids given to 2,392 or 26.1 percent of participants

“The most frequently administered treatment given to all patients was combination lopinavir/ritonavir (N = 2000, 21.9%), followed by interferon α/β (N = 1767, 19.3%) and immunoglobulins (N = 1049, 11.5%),” the researchers stated in the study. 

In a hopeful finding, both were proven effective against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, the previous two coronaviruses that hit the globe. The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir and the usage of interferon-α/β showed an average recovery time of less than two weeks. Furthermore, in the past, lopinavir and ritonavir were approved as a protease inhibitor for HIV.

Additionally, the review said that Interferon α/β, “is a key anti-viral cytokine produced by the host immune system that can inhibit coronavirus replication and boost the immune response.”

“We can't win this fight if we don't take stock of the tools that are already being used and search for new ones that could be effective. While off-label use is happening all over the world, there's currently no system in place to track it, so we felt like we had to create one,” David C. Fajgenbaum, MD, lead author and assistant professor of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics and director of the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL), said in the news release.

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