DOH to stop giving patients lopinavir, ritonavir following experts’ advice

Sofia Tomacruz

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The decision follows the World Health Organization's announcement it was stopping solidarity trials for the antiretroviral drugs after it failed to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients

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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Sunday, July 5, that it will stop giving lopinavir and ritonavir to hospitalized COVID-19 patients following recent advice and recommendations from experts. 

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergiere said patients currently on the treatment will still be able to use the antiretroviral drugs, though they will also have the option to stop if they preferred to not continue.  

The development followed the World Health Organization’s announcement that it was suspending solidarity trials for antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and antiretroviral drugs rotinavir and lopinavir after they failed to reduce mortality among COVID-19 patients.  

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a statement on Saturday, July 4.  

The DOH had earlier suspended giving hydroxychloroquine to patients after the WHO announced that it had “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19. 

This leaves antiviral remdesivir and the Interferon beta-1a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis among experimental drugs being used for clinical trials in the Philippines and in other countries. 

Vergiere said following the development, the DOH will now have “remdesivir plus interferon as the new regimen, vs remdesivir alone (and) vs interferon alone, and standard of care once shipment of interferon arrives.”  

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug originally meant to treat Ebola, has shown to have treating effects on the coronavirus.  

While the United States earlier announced it purchased most of the global supply of the drug, the DOH assured the public there was enough supply of remdesivir for trials and for use of patients who had special permits for the treatment. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.