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This new study finds 21 existing drugs that could treat COVID-19

A new study identified 21 different drugs that can improve remdesivir, which is standard for care over COVID-19

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FILE - In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. (Gilead Sciences via AP)

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.

Gilead Sciences via Associated Press

A new study has identified 21 existing drugs that can be used to help treat COVID-19.

The study, published in the medical journal Nature, found 21 different existing drugs that can stop the replication of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

The researchers reviewed a swath of drugs to see how they might block the replication of the coronavirus.

“Of these, 21 drugs were determined to be effective at concentrations that could be safely achieved in patients,” according to Sanford Burnham Prebys, the medical discovery institute.

“Remdesivir has proven successful at shortening the recovery time for patients in the hospital, but the drug doesn’t work for everyone who receives it,” said Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. “That’s not good enough. As infection rates continue to rise in America and around the world, the urgency remains to find affordable, effective, and readily available drugs that can complement the use of remdesivir, as well as drugs that could be given prophylactically or at the first sign of infection on an outpatient basis.”

  • The study found 13 drugs had entered clinical trials that could be helpful for COVID-19 patients.
  • Two of the drugs have already been approved by the FDA — astemizole (which is used for allergies), clofazamine (often used for leprosy).
  • Four of those drugs worked “synergistically with remdesivir, a current standard-of-care treatment for COVID-19” per SBP.

These drugs will be developed sooner rather than later because many of the safety profiles of these treatments are already known. This will “enable accelerated preclinical and clinical evaluation of these drugs for the treatment of COVID-19,” according to the study’s abstract.