Coronavirus Treatment Drugs: Currently Available Medications & Those Under

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Coronavirus Treatment Drugs: Currently Available Medications & Those Under
Remdesivir is currently one of the most promising treatment options for COVID-19. It was originally developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola but was found to be ineffective.

Remdesivir

Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that works by inhibiting viral replication. Several clinical trials have found that remdesivir may help reduce recovery time for hospitalized coronavirus patients. In May 2020, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for remdesivir to treat COVID-19 based on positive results from large-scale clinical trials. Studies found that hospitalized patients recovered about 30% faster when treated with remdesivir compared to a placebo. However, more research is still needed to determine remdesivir's long-term safety and effectiveness.

 

Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication that has been used since the 1960s to treat conditions like arthritis, severe allergies, asthma, and cancers. In June 2020, researchers in the UK announced that low-dose dexamethasone treatment reduced deaths by one third in ventilated coronavirus patients and by one fifth in patients receiving oxygen only. No benefit was seen in patients with milder disease who did not require respiratory support. Dexamethasone functions as an anti-inflammatory drug by reducing certain immune cells and cytokines that trigger harmful inflammation. While effective for reducing deaths among severely ill Coronavirus Treatment Drugs patients, dexamethasone does not directly attack the virus and should not be used as a treatment for mild cases.

 

Convalescent Plasma Therapy

Convalescent plasma therapy involves transfusing antibody-rich plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to those still fighting active infections. The theory is that plasma packed with antibodies will help boost the immune response of sick patients. Several smaller studies and case reports have found promising results, suggesting convalescent plasma therapy may reduce mortality rates and speed up recovery times. The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization for this strategy based on the preliminary evidence. However, large randomized controlled trials are still ongoing to more definitively determine convalescent plasma's efficacy and safety in treating COVID-19. Side effects appear to be low but transfusion reactions are a risk.

 

Monoclonal Antibody Treatments

Monoclonal antibodies are artificially created antibodies that can help neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several monoclonal antibody treatments are currently being investigated including those developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron. Early trial results found that monoclonal antibody strategies may reduce viral loads, shorten recovery times, and lower rates of hospitalization when given early in infection. In November 2020, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for one monoclonal antibody treatment made by Eli Lilly for high-risk, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. More research is still needed especially on long-term safety and resistance to treatment. However, monoclonal antibodies represent another promising approach that could help treat and possibly prevent severe coronavirus infections.

 

Hydroxychloroquine

Hydroxychloroquine is a decades-old antimalarial medication that also has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It garnered widespread attention in early 2020 as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 based on in-vitro studies and anecdotal reports. However, hydroxychloroquine has since been found to provide little to no benefit in clinical trials for hospitalized patients and to increase risks of cardiac side effects. In June 2020, the FDA revoked its Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 outside clinical trials due to lack of efficacy and safety concerns. Further research is still examining if it may have any benefits when combined with azithromycin or given earlier in the course of illness. But hydroxychloroquine is no longer widely recommended as a first-line treatment outside of clinical trials.

 

Azithromycin

Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic commonly used to treat respiratory infections like pneumonia. Due to favorable in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 and preliminary reports of improved outcomes when combined with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin is being studied alongside other medications for potential COVID-19 treatment benefits. However, clinical trial evidence remains inconclusive. No benefits were seen when added to standard care for hospitalized patients. Some small observational studies found reduced mortality rates in combination with hydroxychloroquine but did not prove causation. Further research is still evaluating azithromycin's potential role, alone or in combination, for treating milder coronavirus cases before hospitalization is required. At this time, its use remains unsupported outside of clinical trials.

 

Additional Drug Candidates

Scientists continue working to develop new treatment strategies for COVID-19. Several other medications are under investigation including favipiravir, ivermectin, lopinavir/ritonavir, and recombinant immunoglobulins. Favipiravir is an antiviral that has shown promise in clinical trials from Japan and is approved for COVID-19 treatment in some countries. Ivermectin is an antiparasitic being studied for potential antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. Lopinavir/ritonavir is an HIV drug that did not prove effective for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in large trials but may merit further study at different doses or stages of disease. Recombinant immunoglobulin research aims to mimic natural antibody protection. While no proven “silver bullet” therapies have yet emerged, continued clinical investigation offers hope that improved coronavirus treatment options can be identified.

 

In summary, remdesivir, dexamethasone, convalescent plasma therapy and monoclonal antibody treatments currently show the most promise based on preliminary evidence. However, ongoing research is still needed before recommendations can be made for their widespread use beyond emergency situations. The search continues globally for simple, affordable, and easily accessible treatment strategies that can reduce COVID-19 severity and mortality. Only through well-designed clinical trials will the effectiveness and safety of treatment candidates become adequately established. Continued research efforts over the coming years will help further develop the antiviral armament for combating not only the current pandemic but also future coronavirus outbreaks.

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