Can Fam Physician. 2021 Mar;67(3):171-179. doi: 10.46747/cfp.6703171.
OBJECTIVE: To keep health care providers, in response to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, informed about the medications that have been proposed to treat the disease and the evidence supporting their use.
QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: A narrative review of medications most widely used to treat COVID-19 was conducted, outlining the best available evidence for each pharmacologic treatment to date. Searches were performed in PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE using key words COVID-19 and treatment, as well as related terms. Relevant research studies conducted in human populations and cases specific to patients with COVID-19 were included, as were relevant hand-searched papers and reviews. Only articles in English and Chinese were included.
MAIN MESSAGE: While current management of patients with COVID-19 largely involves supportive care, without a widely available vaccine, practitioners have also resorted to repurposing medications used for other indications. This has caused considerable controversy, as many of these treatments have limited clinical evidence supporting their use and therefore pose implications for patient safety, drug access, and public health. For instance, medications such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, lopinavir-ritonavir, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers gained widespread media attention owing to hype, misinformation, or misinterpretation of research evidence.
CONCLUSION: Given the severity of the pandemic and the potential broad effects of implementing safe and effective treatment, this article provides a narrative review of the current evidence behind the most widely used medications to treat COVID-19 in order to enable health care practitioners to make informed decisions in the care of patients with this life-threatening disease.