PAHO: Clinical trials of drug repositioning for COVID-19 treatment
The World Health Organization (WHO) was informed in December 2019 about a coronavirus pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province (China). Subsequently, on March 12, 2020, 125,048 cases and 4,614 deaths were reported. Coronavirus is an enveloped RNA virus, from the genus Betacoronavirus, that is distributed in birds, humans, and other mammals. WHO has named the novel coronavirus disease as COVID-19. More than 80 clinical trials have been launched to test coronavirus treatment, including some drug repurposing or repositioning for COVID-19. Hence, we performed a search in March 2020 of the clinicaltrials.gov database. The eligibility criteria for the retrieved studies were: contain a clinicaltrials.gov base identifier number; describe the number of participants and the period for the study; describe the participants’ clinical conditions; and utilize interventions with medicines already studied or approved for any other disease in patients infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV). It is essential to emphasize that this article only captured trials listed in the clinicaltrials.gov database. We identified 24 clinical trials, involving more than 20 medicines, such as human immunoglobulin, interferons, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, arbidol, remdesivir, favipiravir, lopinavir, ritonavir, oseltamivir, methylprednisolone, bevacizumab, and traditional Chinese medicines (TCM). Although drug repurposing has some limitations, repositioning clinical trials may represent an attractive strategy because they facilitate the discovery of new classes of medicines; they have lower costs and take less time to reach the market; and there are existing pharmaceutical supply chains for formulation and distribution.