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August 10, 2020

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Covid-19 treatments update

Everything you need to know about the available Covid-19 treatments

This column is provided by Ohio Northern University HealthWise Pharmacy.
As coronavirus cases continue to increase, the search for an effective treatment also continues.

Many potential COVID-19 medications have made the news over the last several months. Recently, for example, remdesivir was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with severe illness.

However, the data for remdesivir is mixed. And not all hospitals can get this medication.

Before this announcement, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19. These drugs were being given to patients who were being treated for COVID-19 in hospital settings.

These medications actually were approved through EUA for use as COVID-19 treatments. This means these medications were not authorized for use through regular US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, however.

Then, the FDA issued a warning against the use of these medications outside of hospital settings. This is because of risks tied to these medications. The agency said it was aware of numerous reports of serious and dangerous heart rhythm problems linked to these medications.

Furthermore, the FDA stated that neither of these medications had been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.

Now, the FDA has revoked the EUA for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate.

This decision came because the agency concluded that these medications were unlikely to work as COVID-19 treatments. And with the serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects tied to these medications, the benefits no longer outweighed the potential risks, the FDA noted.

More recently, the FDA released news regarding a newly discovered potential drug interaction between remdesivir and chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate. The FDA issued a warning to health care providers about this possible drug interaction, which may lower the effectiveness of remdesivir.

As a result, the use of remdesivir and chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate is not recommended, the FDA noted.

In terms of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, there is limited evidence that suggests that it improves outcomes for severe COVID-19 cases.

“Over the course of this unprecedented pandemic, the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for a variety of medical products after evaluating the available scientific evidence and carefully balancing any known or potential risks against the benefits of making these products available during the current public health emergency," said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release.

"We understand that, as we learn more about these products, changes may be necessary based on new data – such as today’s updates for health care providers about a potential drug interaction and other important information about using remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients."

It is important to note that no COVID-19 treatments are currently FDA-approved, and none are for prevention or outpatient use.

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