COVID-19: A review of the proposed pharmacological treatments

Eur J Pharmacol. 2020 Nov 5;886:173451. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173451. Epub 2020 Aug 6.


The emerging pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) presents an unprecedented challenge for healthcare systems globally. The clinical course of COVID-19 and its ability to rapidly create widespread infection has major implications, warranting vigorous infection prevention and control measures. As the confirmed number of cases has surpassed 5.6 million worldwide and continues to grow, the potential severity of the disease and its deadly complications requires urgent development of novel therapeutic agents to both prevent and treat COVID-19. Although vaccines and specific drug therapies have yet to be discovered, ongoing research and clinical trials are being conducted to investigate the efficacy of repurposed drugs for treating COVID-19. In the present review, the drug candidates that have been suggested to treat COVID-19 will be discussed. These include anti-viral agents (remdesivir, ribavirin, lopinavir-ritonavir, favipiravir, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, oseltamivir, umifenovir), immunomodulatory agents (tocilizumab, interferons, plasma transfusions), and adjunctive agents (azithromycin, corticosteroids), among other miscellaneous agents. The mechanisms of action and further pharmacological properties will be explored, with a particular focus on the evidence-based safety and efficacy of each agent.

Keywords: COVID-19; Clinical trials; Coronavirus; Drug targets; Mechanism of action; SARS-CoV-2.