4 investigational drugs highly effective against COVID-19 – expert

Shiela Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
4 investigational drugs highly effective against COVID-19 â expert
This handout photo obtained May 26, 2021, courtesy of Pharmaceutical company Merck shows capsules of the experimental antiviral drug Molnupiravir. Merck said on October 1, 2021, it will seek authorization in the US for molnupiravir for Covid-19, after the pill showed "compelling results" in a clinical trial. The experimental drug, significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death when administered to high-risk patients early in the disease, Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said in a statement.
Handout / Merck & Co, Inc. / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Four investigational drugs are highly effective against COVID-19 even with the circulation of the Omicron variant in the country, an infectious disease expert at San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) said yesterday.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, who heads the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at SLH, said there are four effective “therapies” against COVID-19 that also have the “ability to prevent or reduce hospitalization and death.”

These drugs are Paxlovid (Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir tablets), Sotrovimab, Remdesivir and Molnupiravir.

But Solante underscored that other COVID-19 drugs such as Tocilizumab, Baricitinib and Dexamethasone are also effective treatment against COVID-19.

“They are all efficacious regardless of variants because they are not antivirals but are anti-inflammatory drugs. (They are) drugs that lower inflammation,” Solante said in a phone interview.

“We have enough armaments but prevention is still best with use of vaccine because all those treatments have varying efficacy and benefits,” he added.

Speaking at the Go Negosyo forum yesterday, Solante shared the “efficacy rates” of the four drugs in terms of preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Paxlovid posted an efficacy rate of 88 percent while it was 85 percent for Sotrovimab and 87 percent for Remdesivir. The efficacy rate of Molnupiravir is at 30 percent.

But the expert underscored that despite Molnupiravir’s reduced efficacy rate, it is an “oral regimen” so the drug is “not anticipated to have drug interaction.”

“Although it’s low … but at the same time because it is given orally and without much of the drug interaction, then this is the drug that most doctors are giving aside from the other three (drugs),” he added.

On the other hand, Paxlovid, Sotrovimab and Remdesivir are given through intravenous (IV) infusion.

“All of these are highly efficacious. But there are also downsides like, for example, if you’re using Nirmatrelvir, you need to know the drug interactions. You need to know if your patient has renal dysfunction,” said Solante, noting the need to determine the patient’s creatinine level before administering the drug.

Molnupiravir, on the other hand, is not recommended for pregnant women and children.

“Timing is very important when giving these drugs,” Solante pointed out.


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