Role of Lopinavir/Ritonavir in the Treatment of Covid-19: A Review of Current Evidence, Guideline Recommendations, and Perspectives

J Clin Med. 2020 Jun 30;9(7):E2050. doi: 10.3390/jcm9072050.

Abstract

A life-threatening respiratory illness (COVID-19) due to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2 coronavirus was first described in December 2019 in Wuhan (China), rapidly evolving into a pandemic. In the first phase, when the viral replication plays a pivotal pathogenetic role, antiviral drugs could be crucial in limiting viral-induced organ damage. Unfortunately, there are no specific antivirals of proven efficacy for COVID-19, and several drugs have been repurposed to face this dramatic pandemic. In this paper we review the studies evaluating lopinavir/ritonavir association (LPV/r) use in COVID-19, and previously in SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). We searched PubMed to identify all relevant clinical and laboratory studies published up to 15 May 2020; the guidelines on the use of LPV/r in COVID-19 were further directly searched on the website of the main international scientific societies and agencies. Available evidence is currently scarce and of low quality. The recommendations issued for COVID-19 vary from positions clearly against the use of LPV/r to other positions that are more favorable. In our opinion, despite the controversial results of an important randomized clinical trial, and some recommendations, clinicians should not abandon the use of LPV/r for the treatment of COVID-19, possibly using this drug inside a prospective randomized trial, waiting for the results of the numerous ongoing trials evaluating its efficacy.

Keywords: COVID-19; MERS; SARS; guideline; lopinavir; recommendation; ritonavir.

Publication types

  • Review