COVID-19 Drug Therapies

BYLINE: Dale Hawthorne Whitby, PharmD, Editor-in-Chief, Clinical Drug Information

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in ways many of us never expected. As Jen Elenbaas noted in her Editor’s Blog, the “new normal” seems to mean having more questions than answers. And, wow, how true that is for drug therapies targeting this virus!

Over the past few months, we’ve watched therapies fall in and out of favor faster than I ever thought possible. As healthcare providers, we’ve had to make hard decisions based on very little data. We’ve struggled to make sense of conflicting studies, and we’ve tried our best to stay objective and critically evaluate the data while avoiding the hype. In the face of this tremendous uncertainty, our patients, loved ones, and the general public look to us for answers and confidence. As a pharmacist, I’ve been asked by many friends and family: “Does this drug work?”… “Is that drug safe?”… “Would you take it if you were sick?”… “When will we have a cure?” and, of course, “What about a vaccine?” Many times, unfortunately, the answer has been…"I don’t know,” which doesn’t make anyone feel very good.

After having many of these conversations, I’ve concluded that maybe ”I don’t know” is not a terrible answer. It’s the truthful one, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. We can help those seeking answers understand that this is not easy for anyone, and we (healthcare professionals) want the answers just like they do. In fact, we are searching hard for them every day. We can share some of the innovation and creative thinking around treatment possibilities for COVID-19. We can share what we do know and encourage them to not lose hope and follow best practices in the meantime.

What's been updated:

• FDA broadens remdesivir EUA to include all hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Also, data included from a study evaluating efficacy of remdesivir 5-day and 10-day therapies against standard care alone in patients hospitalized with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia.

• COVID-19 convalescent plasma updated with information regarding the FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

• Interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor antagonists updated with data from a study evaluating efficacy of tocilizumab in treating severe COVID-19.

• NIH COVID-19 treatment guideline updates include new recommendations for chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, corticosteroids, IL-6 inhibitors, and ivermectin.

Also, each toolkit includes a section that houses the Drug Monographs used per care setting.

You can also find robust Patient Medication Information sections for ICU, Inpatient and Emergency settings including both pdfs for download and videos to instruct.

For pharmacists in need of a refresher, we have a toolkit just for that purpose.

Are you a researcher or data scientist focused on Coronavirus vaccine, drug, clinical and other related research? Check out the Elsevier Coronavirus Research Hub to freely access research tools and selected Virology and Infectious Disease Journals for coronavirus researchers.