Old and re-purposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19

Shio Shin Jean, Po Ren Hsueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has developed since December 2019. It has caused a global pandemic with more than three hundred thousand case fatalities. However, apart from supportive care by respirators, no standard medical therapy is validated. Areas covered: This paper presents old drugs with potential in vitro efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. The in vitro database, adverse effects, and potential toxicities of these drugs are reviewed regarding their feasibility of clinical prescription for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. To obtain convincing recommendations, we referred to opinions from the US National Institute of Health regarding drugs repurposed for COVID-19 therapy. Expert opinion: Although strong evidence of well-designed randomized controlled studies regarding COVID-19 therapy is presently lacking, remdesivir, teicoplanin, hydroxychloroquine (not in combination with azithromycin), and ivermectin might be effective antiviral drugs and are deemed promising candidates for controlling SARS-CoV-2. In addition, tocilizumab might be considered as the supplementary treatment for COVID-19 patients with cytokine release syndrome. In future, clinical trials regarding a combination of potentially effective drugs against SARS-CoV-2 need to be conducted to establish the optimal regimen for the treatment of patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-847
Number of pages5
JournalExpert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • favipiravir
  • re-purposed
  • Remdesivir
  • SARS-COV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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