12 drugs being tested as COVID-19 treatments

More than 550 drugs are being developed or repurposed to treat COVID-19, according to the FDA. So far, five have been granted emergency use authorizations, though none has received full approval as a COVID-19 treatment. 

Researchers are testing antivirals, cell and gene therapies, immunomodulators, neutralizing antibodies and more to treat the virus. 

Here’s a snapshot of a dozen drugs being tested to treat COVID-19: 

  1. Remdesivir — Gilead’s remdesivir has been one of the most commonly used drugs in COVID-19 treatment and has been shown to shorten COVID-19 patient recovery time by five days. It’s an intravenous drug that works by targeting the system coronaviruses use to replicate themselves. It’s been granted emergency use authorization by the FDA, and Gilead also is testing an inhaled version of it.
  2. Dexamethasone — A steroid, Dexamethasone is the first drug that has been shown to improve survival of COVID-19 patients in clinical trials. It reduces inflammation by mimicking anti-inflammatory hormones and has been commonly given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients who need oxygen or are on ventilators. Oxford University in England is studying the drug to see if it can safely improve survival rates in COVID-19 patients.
  3. REGN-COV2 — Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody drug, REGN-COV2 made headlines when President Donald Trump was given it as part of his COVID-19 treatment. In a clinical trial, the drug caused the level of the virus to decrease, which indicates it may help patients recover from COVID-19 faster.
  4. Convalescent plasma — Made from blood donated by people who’ve recovered from COVID-19, convalescent plasma is being studied as a treatment to help those already infected with COVID-19 recover. Scientists are also looking to see if injecting someone with it before they become infected can prevent infection.
  5. Humira — Researchers at the University of Oxford are testing if AbbVie’s Humira can treat COVID-19 patients. Humira is a rheumatoid arthritis drug and the top-selling drug in the U.S. by nondiscounted spending. Humira is a type of drug called an anti-tumor necrosis factor, or anti-TNF, and recent studies have shown that COVID-19 patients taking anti-TNF drugs are less likely to be hospitalized.
  6. Olumiant — Made by Eli Lilly, Olumiant is designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. A clinical trial showed that Olumiant in combination with remdesivir shortened COVID-19 patients’ recovery time by about a day in comparison to those treated with just remdesivir. Eli lilly plans to discuss an emergency use authorization for the drug to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 
  7. Blood thinners — The National Institutes of Health is studying if blood thinners can treat COVID-19 by lowering patients’ chance of developing blood clots. Researchers have found that many patients who died from COVID-19 had formed blood clots in their bodies, including in their smallest blood vessels.
  8. hIVIG —  anti-coronavirus hyperimmune intravenous immunoglobulin, or hIVIG, is a more-concentrated version of convalescent plasma that contains several times the amount of antibodies than are typically found in the plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19. The NIH is studying hIVIG in combination with remdesivir to see if it can reduce the risk of patients developing more serious COVID-19.
  9. LY-CoV555 & LY-CoV016 — Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody drugs, LY-CoV555 and LY-CoV016 are monotherapies the drugmaker is testing in combination to treat COVID-19. Eli Lilly submitted an emergency use authorization for the combination therapy after clinical trials showed it may be effective to treat patients with high risk for serious outcomes. The drugmaker later halted its clinical trial of the drug due to an undisclosed safety concern.
  10. Remicade — Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade is an immunosuppressive drug designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and more conditions. The NIH is testing the drug to see whether it can treat respiratory distress and organ failure in severely ill COVID-19 patients. The patients will also receive remdesivir.
  11. Orencia — Bristol Myers Squibb’s Orencia is a drug designed to treat autoimmune diseases. The NIH is testing it in combination with remdesivir to see if it can treat respiratory distress and organ failure in severely ill COVID-19 patients, as well as if it lowers severity of the disease, recovery time, death rate and use of hospital resources.
  12. CVC — An investigational drug from AbbVie, CVC is an immune modulator. The NIH is testing it in combination with remdesivir to see if it can control an overreaction of patients’ COVID-19 inflammatory response.

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