COVID-19 RECOVERY trial: HIV medicine found ineffective in treating hospitalised COVID-19 patients

The HIV combination treatment lopinavir-ritonavir is also being studied in a trial by the World Health Organization.

Reuters June 30, 2020 18:47:33 IST
COVID-19 RECOVERY trial: HIV medicine found ineffective in treating hospitalised COVID-19 patients

A combination of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV had no beneficial effect in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in a large-scale randomised trial, British scientists said on Monday.

Scientists running the RECOVERY trial at the University of Oxford said that the results “convincingly rule out any meaningful mortality benefit of lopinavir-ritonavir in the hospitalised COVID-19 patients we studied.”

The scientists found no difference in mortality, length of hospital stay or the risk of being put on a ventilator, when they compared 1,596 patients given lopinavir-ritonavir with 3,376 patients in a control group.

COVID19 RECOVERY trial HIV medicine found ineffective in treating hospitalised COVID19 patients

Many trials of lopinavir–ritonavir are underway to see if it improves symptoms in adult patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19. Image courtesy: The African Society for Laboratory Medicine

AbbVie Inc’s Kaletra is a combination of the drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, used together to fight HIV. The company had increased its supplies while it was determining whether it can be used to treat COVID-19.

“These preliminary results show that for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and not on a ventilator, lopinavir-ritonavir is not an effective treatment,” Peter Horby, chief investigator for the trial, said.

The scientists were unable to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the drug combination in patients on ventilators because of the difficulty of administering it.

Lopinavir-ritonavir is also being studied in a trial by the World Health Organization.

The Oxford-based RECOVERY trial has been examining the effectiveness of six possible COVID-19 treatments, enrolling 11,800 patients in all.

The arm of the trial studying dexamethasone, a steroid, found it reduced the death rate of patients that required oxygen. Another arm found the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, had no benefit.

Also read: COVID-19 'RECOVERY' Trial: Dexamethasone found life-saving in seriously-ill patients in preliminary tests

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