The company that manufactures the HIV prevention drug PrEP is preparing to test the pill against COVID-19 in an effort to find out if it could kill the virus or slow its spread.
Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada, is set to test components of PrEP against COVID-19 but doesn’t expect it to be that successful and previous attempts against other diseases have been ineffective.
In response to questions from the Washington Blade, Sonia Choi, vice president for public affairs at Gilead Sciences, said via email the company plans to test components of the drug against coronaviruses but doesn’t anticipate favourable results because components of Truvada were shown to be ineffective against other diseases.
“We are planning to assess the in vitro antiviral activity of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC), the components of Truvada, against coronaviruses,” Choi said to Washington Blade.
“However, based on in vitro testing against other RNA viruses including Ebola virus, hepatitis C virus, respiratory syncytial virus and bovine viral diarrhea virus, we do not expect to observe antiviral activity of TDF or FTC against coronaviruses.”
With the coronavirus claiming thousands of lives across the globe, medical experts are throwing any and all medications they can against the disease, including drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS like PrEP.
As reported by NBC News, there’s hope for Remdesivir, a drug used to fight HIV, which is still being studied under clinical trials.
Based on early tests, the drug “may start working within 24 hours of the first dose” against the coronavirus.
According to anecdotal reports, at least two hospitalized patients who received Remdesivir started to improve by the next day.
One was a man who traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, then after coming back to his home in Washington State became the first person in the United States diagnosed with COVID-19. And Chris Kane, 55, was diagnosed with the coronavirus and given the drug during his hospitalization at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash.
In both cases, the patients started to improve after taking Remdesivir within one day.
But with this limited sample, questions remain about whether it was the drug that led to health improvement, or whether these two patients would have gotten better anyway.
The drug’s use against coronavirus is now officially in clinical trials at Providence Regional Medical Center and first results are expected in late April, according to NBC News.
Despite hope, Truvada may be effective against the coronavirus, patients are warned taking the drug either for HIV prevention or treatment may still be susceptible to COVID-19 and able to transmit it.