Dozens of drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could prove effective at treating the novel corona virus, aka COVID-19, according to two new studies.
Co-author of one of the studies Dr. Hesham Sadek from the UT Southwestern Medical Center, Houston, said, “Repurposing these FDA-approved drugs could be a fast way to get treatment to patients who otherwise have no option.”
However, experts say that these studies are still in their early stages and people should not take any drugs as of now to treat or prevent the corona virus.
The World Health Organization said, right now, “there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new corona virus. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.”
As the new virus has been affecting and killing people across the world, researchers and drug companies are in a race to discover a drug or vaccine that might help save patients’ lives.
Dr. Sadek explained that it could take months to develop new drugs even with rapid FDA approval.
Therefore, Dr. Sadek and his team started studying certain drugs that have been already approved by the FDA to understand their potential at treating the virus.
The researchers found that the most promising drugs were antiviral drugs, chemotherapy drugs, ACE inhibitors (blood pressure medications), statins, painkillers, antihistamines, and antimalarial drugs.
Dr. Sadek noted that rosuvastatin is “already taken by millions of patients around the world to lower their cholesterol, is safe, inexpensive and readily available.”
However, the efficacy of these drugs against COVID-19 remains theoretical because the study was completely computer-based. The researchers said the efficacy of these drugs would be confirmed only after conducting large trials.
Another study, led by biologist Nevan Krogan from the University of California, San Francisco, has found that nearly 70 drugs, some of which are already approved by the FDA could prove to be effective against COVID-10.
The researchers studied the genetic makeup of the new virus by focusing on some key proteins the pathogen uses to attack the genetics of human cells. The virus uses the cell’s protein to proliferate into millions.
Krogan and his team searched for drugs that target the same cell proteins that the virus targets after the invasion. The drugs they found are also approved by the FDA, which are used for treating a wide range of conditions from Parkinson’s to hypertension to cancer. Also, the list contains antibiotics, diabetes drugs, malarial drugs, and a schizophrenia drug.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced that he is optimistic about the malaria drugs – chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine – because they have shown promising results in treating the coronavirus.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, quickly stated that there was only “anecdotal evidence” that chloroquine might work against COVID-19.
Globally, the virus has affected more than 422,000 and killed over 18,900. In the United States, officials have reported 54,881 confirmed cases and 782 deaths so far.