Exploring Repurposing Potential of Existing Drugs in the Management of COVID-19 Epidemic: A Critical Review

Debjit Chakraborty, Falguni Debnath, Subrata Biswas, Mihir Bhatta, Suman Ganguly, Alok Kumar Deb, Malay Kumar Saha, Shanta Dutta


Despite high morbidity and mortality of ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, no specific therapy has been established till date. Though in vitro studies identified various molecules as possible therapies against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), these findings call for substantiation by human studies. We conducted this review aiming at reporting evidences on therapies used so far globally for management of COVID-19 in clinical settings. We searched electronic databases as PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE and extracted 612 possible studies as on May 31, 2020. We included original studies of any epidemiological design done on human COVID-19 patients and measured clinical outcomes. Finally, following removal of duplicates and studies meeting exclusion criteria, we derived 22 studies, of which eight were clinical trials, seven were case reports and case series, and seven were observational studies. The most reported therapies were hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (eight studies) and lopinavir/ritonavir (four studies). We conclude from the evidence generated so far that interferon combined with antivirals, remdesivir, umifenovir and favipiravir were mostly associated with better clinical outcomes. The therapeutic effect of HCQ was established initially by two clinical trials; one of them showing a reinforcing effect by azithromycin but subsequent studies did not elicit any effectiveness rather increased rate of adverse events was reported. Lopinavir/ritonavir was found beneficial when administered with interferon and ribavirin, but one clinical trial on its sole use proved contrary. As many clinical trials are in process, we expect to get concrete evidences on repurposing of existing drugs based on less biased, high powered studies.

J Clin Med Res. 2020;12(8):463-471
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4241


COVID-19; Repurposing; Remdesivir; HCQ

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