HIV anti-retroviral drugs to be used to treat COVID-19?

Coronavirus: HIV anti-retroviral drugs to be used for COVID-19 treatment?

Representative image.

The Drug Controller General of India recently gave approval for HIV anti-retroviral drugs to be used for the treatment of COVID-19 in case of a public health emergency. The Department of Pharmaceuticals also recently called a meeting of pharmaceutical companies to stock up anti-retroviral drugs in case the numbers peak and community transmission is seen in India.

An Italian couple recently were treated in Agra, with their consent, with HIV anti-retroviral drugs and were found to be negative. They had severe respiratory distress and the drugs were given on compassionate grounds by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Saturday maintained that the state would stick to providing Tami Flu tablets to the five COVID-19 positive patients that are being treated at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases.

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Tami Flu is an antiviral medication used to treat and prevent Influenza A and Influenza B. Sudhakar told reporters here, "There are various schools of treatment for COVID-19. However, for now, we will stick to treating patients with supportive care as per the Government of India protocol and treat patients with Tami Flu."

Dr. Ishwar Gilada, President, AIDS Society of India (the largest professional body of physicians and researchers in HIV care), and Governing Council Member, International AIDS Society, had written to the union health minister to use anti-retroviral drugs in the treatment of COVID-19. He told DH that the second line of ARV drugs can be used for treatment as they cost less and have no side effects.

"ARV drugs Lopinavir-Ritonavir combo, as well as chloroquine and zinc, would cost less than Rs. 2,000. MNC pharma giant Pfizer has shipped 100 boxes of their Darunavir ARV-combo to China for trial. ARV drugs can come to our rescue in the time of crisis, hence we should keep them on shelf," Gilada said.

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