Thailand Sees Good Result From Using Drug Mixture on Coronavirus
By Suttinee Yuvejwattana 2 February 2020, 19:16 GMT+10 Updated on 3 February 2020, 16:44 GMT+10
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A cocktail of antiviral drugs appeared effective in treating a seriously ill coronavirus patient, a Thai health official said.
The HIV medicines lopinavir and ritonavir, which are sold by AbbVie Inc. as the product Kaletra, was used on three patients in conjunction with the anti-flu medication oseltamivir, sold by Roche Holding AG and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. as Tamiflu, Somkiat Lalitwongsa, director of the Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok told reporters Monday.
Kaletra is already being studied in a randomized, controlled trial — the gold standard for testing new medical products — in novel coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China. The decision by Thai doctors to give the flu drug was based on research that indicated it helped some patients afflicted with the more-deadly coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome. A study by researchers in France recommended it be used in these so-called MERS patients, but discontinued if tests show they don’t have the flu.
“There’s not enough evidence to support the effectiveness just yet,” Somkiat said. “But we report to contribute to the medical community globally. The results look good so far.”
Obviously there are some pretty serious caveats. Thailand has a substantial HIV rate of 1.3%, so it is possible the HIV drug produced improved outcomes because a disproportionate number of the people showing severe symptoms have AIDS – though the doctors who announced this preliminary result must have been aware of this possibility.
On the other hand, in the midst of a WHO declared global health emergency, any glimmer of hope is worth further investigation.